Energy levels

I had a fantastic weekend. Verdungeons & Dragons on Saturday after my shift; we finally reached level three, and I completely flubbed my character’s very first spell. Then brunch with a friend and some mild shopping before the QWF picnic.

Now, you might be wondering why someone would possibly think it’s a good idea to brunch before a picnic. I suppose we can chalk it up to me trying to have my cake and eat it too. Plus I don’t have a kitchen, I didn’t bring anything, so it didn’t feel right to mooch off of everyone’s collaboration to the event. I did sample some delicious sugar tartlike thing with pecans in it and I swear, I had an out-of-body experience.

As expected, it was great to talk to other writers about writing, to hear their experiences, to hear some of what they’ve worked on (I’ve made a note to look up a book later). I really enjoy the sense of community and camaraderie that I feel with these folk, and look forward to getting to know them better. It’s also reassuring to know that when I progress in my writing life, there will be people to ask for opinions and advice.

The other half of my weekend was given to cleaning in my apartment, sensibly nudged there by my boyfriend. I’ve basically been living in his place, and the landlord will need to show mine to interested renters, so it was due. We spent three hours sweating with only a fan to push the hot air around us. I was sweeping and cleaning up, but poor Fred was using hot water in the kitchen and scrubbing cabinets. Before we could finish all we wanted to, I called it quits; my head was pounding, my temper was building steam, and I was tired of standing.

So, socializing (a LOT) and keeping pretty physically active put me in no mood to go and deal with the daily grind. Getting back to work wasn’t so bad, but I had to start canceling on events to be able to stay home and recover energy. I feel a little guilty, but I’ve come to an understanding that if I don’t manage my energy levels, I start to feel a little frayed at the edges, and my mood sours. If I want to function and be productive in my daily life, I need to maintain a certain balance. Then it’s easier to make time to write, and I feel happy about having been productive in my writing life, and that feels great.

All that to say that I haven’t really worked on Claire apart from revising the first chapter and submitting it to my writing group. Now I have a little over three weeks to read their pieces, which is always fun, and progress a bit in my own work so that I have a few choices for my next submission.

I am loving this whole schedules thing, having other people rely on me, sharing work with others and reading theirs. It’s easy to keep momentum when I have these reasons spurring me on, keeping me going. It makes the entire thing more fun, also.

Relaxing into myself

I had one of those days yesterday. The kind of day where you meet a lot of great people and shake a lot of hands and smile and come home completely exhausted, yet brimming with energy. A day that when you wake up the next morning, you can’t believe it was only yesterday, because it felt like it went on forever in the best of ways.

(Maybe I shouldn’t post something that honest online, but I’m a huge dork, so why the hell not?)

I was sitting in a therapy session and expressing mild satisfaction with the direction of my writing life, and a hope that things will accelerate when my work schedule changes. As ever, my therapist suggested I not wait, that I try to get involved in something sooner, since it might take some time to get organized, meet up, et cetera. She pulled up her laptop and started Googling, and when I went home that night I decided to join the Quebec Writers’ Federation.

Then I got a newsletter, and pressure started to build. I had signed up, I would have to meet these people soon enough. How many books had they written? How many more years of experience did they have over me? And the biggest question, naturally, what would they think of me? This goofball who probably dresses too young for his age and likes to use the word “fuck” in fiction?

I put it away, but kept coming back to it during my breaks at work. I did this so that I could meet writers and discuss writing, find community and support, perhaps kindred spirits. I picked a morning social mixer. It wasn’t very long, I could duck out and retreat to my apartment if I felt overwhelmed.

Of course, I had a nightmare.

A few days later, I’m sitting down with my boss at work to discuss my performance and where I’m going. He said to me, not unkindly, “I can’t move you with these numbers,” and I knew it was true. The same feeling that was stressing me about meeting the QWF was plaguing me at work: I don’t deserve to be here. Any moment, someone will find that unforgivable flaw, and I’ll be thrown out.

I am an impostor.

Curiously, it was after that meeting with my manager that I started turning it around.

Walking back to my desk, I’m thinking on what my manager has said, and my dread at going to a casual social event. I tap into something that has helped me in the past when I’ve been out the door and on my way to meet strangers: fuck what everyone thinks. I’m here for me. So I am going to be me, unapologetically.

I sit back down at my desk, and having somehow, suddenly deciding to stop giving a fuck, I manage to have better connections with my clients, more in-depth conversations, and I am able to see more ways to help them. I don’t care what the clients think, I am there to do a job, and I can do it best by being myself.

I feel instant gratification because I am having fun with my job, my conversations that evening were more conversational and genuine. The next day, I read Lauren Graham’s In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It and it validates my experiences from the day before. I go to therapy and am told that I have relaxed into myself, and that sounds really positive. I go home and write more of my second novel, edit more of my first, and I feel more awake and present than I have in a shockingly long time.

I don’t realize at first, but I am arming myself against impostor syndrome. I am doing things that will allow me to push back against those feelings with logic. When the voice tells me that I’m not a real writer, I am able to know that I have just written, I am writing, I will write. I may have not written as much as some, but surely they didn’t get to where they are by letting doubt stop them from moving forward. At least not all the time.

By the time I meet members of the QWF, a few at a time as they arrive, I am able to feel at ease. Just like when I started playing soccer two summers ago, I didn’t feel judged about my level of experience. These people were encouraging, interested, and interesting as well. I was happy to see what an eclectic bunch they were, and it was pleasant to talk to each of them. One of them even knew where Cecilia was, having spent some time in Louisiana, and I was floored: suddenly we’re discussing the Cajun cuisine, the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, and the prevalence of the French language there. I love how I could never have predicted that conversation would take place, it makes it all the more special.

The rest of the day rushed by: I attended a panel where writers shared stories of events that influenced their writing, or had to be overcome so that they could continue writing. I listened to another where queer writers discussed their recent works, and their motivations for the themes they explored within them. It brought me back to thinking about Louisiana, and I’m wondering if that’s the sort of thought that might grow into something I’ll work on later.

So that was yesterday. Now I’m working on a short story in addition to my two novels, and I’m getting involved with a writing group. I feel like I can finally come here and write things, because I have so much more to say now that I’m actually writing again. It’s like dusty gears inside me are moving once again, the machinery is warming up and coming back to life, and I am loving it.

I mean, don’t expect regular updates or anything. Let’s not forget to retain a speck of cynicism.

Darkness Concealed is coming!

D. Emery Bunn was one of the first bloggers to follow me, and I have long enjoyed his posts on writing and editing. In just a few days, he is releasing his first book, Darkness Concealed:

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50 years ago, the dawn did not come. Again. Everyone in Telthan knew it would happen. Monsters roamed the land, killing virtually everyone in their path, laying waste to anything in their way. Only a precious few survived to rebuild the wreckage of civilization, just like last time. No one questions the Darkening. Not even the children.

That is, until four strangers set off in search of answers, braving a forbidden city, a forgotten library, and foreboding mountains for the truth that has to exist. But the past does not give up its secrets easily, and the truth is far darker than the blackest night.

It’s already available for preorder on Amazon and Kobo, which makes me very happy; I’ve noticed that some indie authors neglect Kobo, which is a shame.

Congratulations to D. Emery Bunn for getting your work out there! Darkness Concealed is available September 23, and I greatly look forward to reading it!