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What’s Happening (now)

It has been so long since I posted that I was afraid that I had forgotten the password to log in and was going to have to start a new blog entirely. But I remembered, obviously, which means I am reusing passwords and will soon be hacked at all sites I log into.

I probably shouldn’t have typed that out loud. Just…a…sec…Never mind, I have changed all of my passwords.

The last year has been a strange one, lots of standing in place while events move around me, like I’m the main character in a badly plotted novel.

I put my writing on hold for a while, not on purpose but because I just wasn’t in the headspace to do it. The novel is still there, between drafts, waiting for me to come back to it. I have the characters and the setting, but the plot needs work. And the plot is kind of an important element here.

I have worked on a couple of short stories. I actually have three of them sitting around right now, and one that’s almost ready. Two of these have been sent out and rejected once without being sent out again. I am bad at submitting and that’s kind of an important step in all of this, I know. It’s not that I’m afraid of rejection, per se. I know I’m going to get rejected. lots. It’s more like I have trouble letting the stories be what they are and go out there into the world without feeling the need to tweak them¬†just one more time.¬†

My mental state has been mixed. I’ve had no major mixed episodes, a few minor ones. I had a few days last week where all I wanted to do was sleep and brood, and the brooding was related to nothing that was actually going on. But there’s been nothing like the incident two years ago when I had to be babysat to avoid being hospitalized.

This year has been really hard financially, but things are looking up in that department, freeing me to treat writing like it’s an actual job, which is what I intend to do going forward.

But that’s what’s happening now. I plan to blog more, aiming for two posts a week, depending on if I have something to say or not. I imagine I will, if twitter is any indication.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in life, writing

 

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Quick Update

Still alive. Most days, at least.

I have started the novel over. yes, again. This means I have thrown out a 120,000 word draft of this thing, and then thrown out another 15,000 words (or not, depending.) I think I don’t know if I hate the book or not, at this point, but it clearly hates me.

I am taking a breather and working on some short stories. Some of these aren’t going any better, but at least the drafts aren’t so long.

I did not even pretend to do NaNo this year. At some point in the last couple of months I started getting really concerned about my writing, which then made me afraid of it a little bit, so the thought of writing 50,000 words in one month, or trying to, sent me into convulsions. It may be that I need to adjust my meds. I didn’t used to be this much of a pussy.

I’m declaring December a get shit done month so I can finally make some headway on all these projects, and wrestle the opening of the novel to the ground. Once done; I’ll feel much better.

It gets better after you break through the wall, right?

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in life, writing

 

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“It’s time for a few small repairs,” he said.

It’s been a strange month.

I got about halfway into revising the book and discovered that the plot makes no sense. I’m sure it made sense at the time, but when I really thought some things out it all fell apart. I mean, I know what I meant, but it just didn’t work. There were a lot of things I liked about it. Some wordbuilding details, some of the big ideas. I came to the conclusion that I liked these things and loved the characters, but thought they needed to be in a better story. So I decided to set fire to it and just start over.

It’s liberating, really, when you make that decision. It allowed me to incorporate about a hundred new things that had occured to me as I slogged my way through version 1. It also allowed me to cut a whole lot of clumsy exposition and focus on what happens and who does it. My beta readers (saints as they are) will have to let me know if it’s working or not.

I blame Julia Cameron. I’ve been reading my way through The Artist’s Way, her twelve week course on higher creativity. I say reading it because I haven’t actually been doing it as completing every exercise would mean doing nothing else for twelve weeks. But I’ve been doing the morning pages, which consist of three pages of freewriting every day. They’re supposed to be done in the morning, per the name, but I’ve been cheating and usually doing them around lunchtime. It’s by freewriting about that book that I discovered my problems with it, and the ways to fix them in version 2.

The Artists Way popped up on my radar because of Mur Lafferty and I should be Writing. It sounded interesting and I made a mental note to seek it out. Then I was shelf-reading during my volunteer hours at our local library and there it was. Synchronicity, Cameron would call it.

One of the things she talks about is all the excuses we make for ourselves to not be creative. We decide we can only be creative if we have certain things, i.e. alcohol, or chaos, or, in my case, Mania.

I had tracked down my most creative periods of my life and found that Bipolar hypomania was a factor in all of them. My recent hypomanic episode had left me with an entire novel (yes, another one) loaded in my head. I had begun to despair of being able to be creative when I wasn’t having a manic episode. And mania, for me, always starts off just fine. There are a pleasant few days, an increase in energy, I don’t need to sleep, etc. But then it goes toxic and I end up in a mixed episode where I’m nothing but angry and stressed and tense twenty-four hours a day. So you can see why I’d like to opt out of mania entirely and not rely on it for my creativity.

And I can’t say it’s been a magic bullet, but reading the book and doing some of the exercises, and doing the morning pages did help me recreate the book in my head and get started on rewriting it. I can’t say I’ve been mania-free during that period, but it’s helped me show up on the page no matter how I was feeling otherwise. I’m no longer waiting to ride out the neurochemical storms.

Someday, probably when I’m done with this book and am waiting to start on the next, I will return to the Artists Way and do it the right way. In the mean time, I’m jazzed about the book again and think I can really do it right this time.

We’ll see what happens.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in life, writing

 

At the risk of oversharing …

Wow, two blog posts in the same month. I KNOW!

Despite that, it hasn’t been a very productive couple of weeks. My Three hour writing day hasn’t had a chance to happen because of schduling and doctor’s appointments, and all that stuff but also my own complete lack of energy and focus. But these are all just excuses … bad writer! Bad!

I did manage to get a chapter edited and out to first readers, so that’s something. And this week is not totally non-crazy but isn’t totally crazy either, so it looks better. When talking about this schedule and my new determination to light a fire under my own ass and get things done, I was expressing my concern about doing it all and my wife had this little nugget of simple wisdom … you’re just going to have to get better at managing your time. You think?

Sometimes you just need the people you love to see through your bullshit.

One thing that was holding me back (at the risk of layering on more excuses) was the fact that I was having a lot of sleep issues, which meant I was just dead during the day. I had a couple of sleep studies done and at first they diagnosed me with sleep apnea (which made zero sense) and then they took it back and told me I was grinding my teeth in my sleep and had an acid reflux problem, both of which were waking me up for forgotten micro-seconds and keeping me from getting really deep sleep. So now I wear a mouthguard and take acid reducers. Yes, I am now the type of person who needs gear to sleep, but it’s better than that CPAP mask they tried to convince me I was going to have to wear. It took me a while to get used to the mouthguard, but it does seem to be helping.

This is all separate to my other sleep issue, which was week-long bouts of insomnia. This, I’ve learned, is a result of hypo-mania and I started taking one of my meds at bedtime so that all seems to be going better.

So this week my goal is to, yes, manage my time better: get another chapter edited, keep snowflaking the new thing, and get one of my stories out to another market (to get rejected again, probably, but still).

If someone wants to come over and clean my house for me, I wouldn’t turn it down …

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2011 in life, writing

 

You can stun a mugger with it, that’s got to count for something.

Yes, yes, it’s been a long time. It’s not you, it’s me.

Not much to report except for writing writing writing, at least this past couple of weeks. I did a half0hearted attaempt at Nanowrimo, hoping to complete a novella in that month, even if I didn’t write an entire 50,000 novel. I even started it, got out my little moleskine notebook and everything. I can’t really explain why it never went anywhere but there except to say that I just didn’t have it in me this November, so I gave myself a break and moved on. I still have the novella rattling around in the back of my head, but it’s not ready yet. I’ll write in when it is.

So I spent November and December pretty bummed out and finding myself not able to write anything. I made some edits on the novel but didn’t really get anything done at all, and I wasn’t really sure why. I was just in a funk, I guess. It happens.

Then the new Year hit and things still weren’t happening and I was getting more and more bummed out about it. I started doing a little better, got some more chapters edited and out to first readers (shout-out to Mel and Jon).

There’s a post in here somewhere about Bipolar disorder and how it relates to the creative process, but that’ll be another aside later.

At the end of January I joined my wife in her “great activity challenge.” Now, in the past sixth months she has been on a fitness and weight loss journey that so far has resulted in the loss of 70 lbs. Knowing the exercise was getting a little challenging for her, she created a facebook group and challenged all of her friends to do 30 minutes of activity every day, and keep each other accountable. There’s even a cash prize involved. I joined the challenge with the goal of training to run a 5k. I know that seems like a ridiculously small goal to anybody who runs at all regularly, but it’s my goal. I want to be able to run with my daughter at her next 5k event.

To keep myself motivated through long, boring hours on the treadmill, I (my wife, actually) set up a laptop stand so I can watch movies while I run and do incline hikes. Currently I am alternating disks rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Farscape (I didn’t say I was proud of it). My running capacity, though still embarrassing, has been improving and I’ve kept the asthma attacks to a minimum.

And as I did that, I started writing more. I finally finished the two short stories I’ve had half-completed since September and started sending them out (Lightspeed magazine rejects REAL fast, people). I got back to work on the novel, and as I got my butt back in the seat things started happening again.

Last week I had an idea dump, fully-formed, into my head (see, mania can be fun sometimes). I’ve been looking for my next project, thought the novella was going to be it, but then this happened. It’s a YA concept, which I’m especially excited about because I used to teach middle school and I would love to write for that audience.

But wait, you say. If I start working on something new and exciting doesn’t that mean I’ll abandon the novel? I can’t abandon the novel mostly because my wife will kill me if I show myself, once again, unable to finish something. And I don’t want to. So what I’ve done is set myself up with a real writing schedule. I try to write three hours a day. One hour is on novel edits. One hour on snowflake outlining the new thing, one hour on short stories and other projects (like blogging). I can’t always do three hours a day, but almost always I can get at least one in. I have no day job so I really have no excuse. It’s been a week and a half of this and I’ve gotten four chapters edited, and a good start on having the YA project completely mapped out. I also started a new short story to go out there and bounce around with the others.

Tonight I realized I now have the first third of my novel edited, so I printed it all out and put it in a nice binder under the book cover I geekily designed. That’s over 200 pages of work done now. I needed it all printed out so I can refer to it as I continue to revise, but it’s nice to know that it’s hefty enough to be used in self defense if it should come to that (those rabbits can get pretty uppity sometimes).

So that’s the state of the Chad as it is right now. I plan to update this blog more often. I have it on the schedule and everything.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2011 in life, writing

 

If God be willing and the crick don’t rise

Got back from vacation. It was a great trip. I got to see the side of my family I actually grew up with for the first time in over 13 years, which was incredible. We hadn’t all been together, at least all of us now in the family including spouses and kids, ever. What’s interesting is how many of these new people I’d already met online, so getting together in person for the first time felt really comfortable. Plus, the family reunion gets to continue on Facebook. It’s a strange, wonderful time we live in.

But the whole experience got me refocused on important things. Family, yes. And seeing what everyone else was doing with their lives inspired me to try and get more done with mine, which meant an examination of why I’m not accomplishing as much as I’d like to and I came to an uncomfortable conclusion: the problem is me.

While it’s true I have several cognitive challenges (snerk!) that complicate my ability to get shit done, I also am more than willing to let these things kick my ass far longer than is absolutely necessary. Working with my team of professionals, it has become obvious that one of my main problems is the lack of any imposed structure. Now, I may need structure, but I am pretty much unable to create and maintain it for myself. What I need is a caregiver. Or maybe someone like Charlie from The West Wing.

But I’m going to try. If I want a viable writing career I’m going to have to write a lot more than I do. A lot of it will be crappy, but in doing so I will get that crap out of my system and move on to better, non-crappy work. I also have a novel I’ve got to revise and get out there, mostly because my wife will kill me if I let this one get away and I let all that work go to waste just because I lost it in the second round. So, I need to come up with a schedule that works and get shit done.

Have I mentioned I have two children at home all day right now (see, there I go with excuses again)?

Anyhoo. The plan for the rest of the summer is to get myself on a regular writing schedule. A big portion of this will be simply getting my ass out of bed early enough to get a start on the day and not start out playing catch-up, as I am wont to do. I am lucky in that I really only need to get about six hours of sleep to be ok. This will also mean not caring that the house is messy as much as I do right now and maybe even getting the kids to clean up after themselves more ( I Know!). A couple of rabbits may starve to death.

I’ve been trying it this week and have revised two chapters and started work on a new short story, but this week is atypical as my wife is out of town and one of the kids has been outsourced to grandma’s. But if I can get a running start this week, it is my hope that it will carry me through until it all solidifies into something manageable.

Did I mention I also decided to start running again? This is not as foolish as it seems as running tends to rewire my brain and help me get more sense-making out of it. The time … I still haven’t worked this out yet.

But it’s good to have goals, right? And it’s good to quit falling back on those old reliable excuses and spend some time kicking your own ass before other things do. It’s the only way anything is ever going to happen.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2010 in life, writing

 

Compare/Contrast

We have a joke in my family called “the payback child.” This would be the one of your children so much like you that you will experience all the specific joys and frustrations your own parents did raising you. We thought that since our children were adopted, we might avoid this particular foible of the parenting life. No such luck.

My daughter is exactly like me. Her adhd is a little more severe than mine waswhen I was a kid (and undiagnosed), but for all intents and purposes, it’s the same thing. She’s the dreamy artistic one who doesn’t quite live on the same planet as everyone else. While I took solace in comic books and writing, she draws and scrapbooks and obsessively organizes her legos. Different expressions, same impulse. She even looks like my side of the family. She’s short like I am and has really gorgeous coppery hair. We’ve spent a lot of time together over the last year and I’ve been struck by exactly how much she shares my impusivity and propensity for running off bunny trails to find an interesting deer trail and then a side road leading to the freeway. Let’s not even discuss our organizational skills.

My wife and her brother were totally different, highly academically skilled (it’s both wonderful and intimidating being married to someone smarter than you are, just sayin’) and possessed of a deep ability to focus on a particular task in a way that seems very alien to me. My son is the exact same way. He also shares their inability to endure frustration. So much comes easy to him that when he hits up against something that is just a little bit challenging,he has to go through a rather lengthy tantrum phase before he can muscle through it. He looks almost exactly like my brother-in-law did at that age.

My son and I share similar interests and my daughter and I have the same personality. My wife and daughter have similar interests and my son has her personality. It works out despite that lack of genetic ties. Make of that what you will.

But there’s one issue emerging that’s going to take me a little bit of adjustment. I am not now and have never been a sports guy. I could never quite click with the rules of various sports enough to really understand them. My dad wasn’t a sports guy either, and my attempts to play always ended up with the other kids yelling at me because I didn’t know what I was doing. Coaches and PE teachers never really tried to help, either.

So, of course, my son is a sports guy. He’s good at baseball and wants to be on the school team. He goes to basketball camp and I am told he’s really quick and a good shot and has a lot of potential. He quickly rises through the levels at gymnastics. This stuff is easy for him. I can’t relate.

But I’m going to. I’m even a little bit excited about it. I will go to his practices and his games and pretend I understand what is going on until I actually do. And I will watch him grow up into a six-foot tall athlete who is also really good at math, and wonder how it was that this happened.

But I’m still going to encourage him to join the drama club.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2010 in life

 

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