The New Office Lady

In case you hadn’t heard, something happened to me yesterday.  Something . . . well, few things don’t get bigger.

Besides being Imbolc (in some parts of the world, that is) and the celebration of an oversized squirrel somewhere in western Pennsylvania, it was also my coming out day at work.  They’ve known about this for three weeks, and from what I’d understood the higher ups had already told their people this was coming, and that people should be ready.

So . . . that said, I’d been waiting, and–no lie–dreading the moment just a little.  Waiting for it because something like this only comes around once in your lifetime, and dreading it because it was something that wasn’t quite what you see every day, particularly in an office environment.

Like it or not, it had been affecting me.  I had a bit more in the way of nerves than I wanted to admit, and it was affecting my sleeping, my ability to do things correctly, and even my writing, because as I wasn’t sleeping well, then I was coming home and crashing out hard at night, and remaining sleepy throughout the evening.

But this was something that needed to get done, and done it would become.

I didn’t sleep well the night before, which meant I was dragging a bit when I got up yesterday.  And up I was at five-fifteen.  I tried to write my post the best I could, then checked the weather, looked outside and saw it was a mess, looked over the outfit I was going to wear . . . yeah, everything was ready, so all I had to do was get ready as well.  Cleanup, change, put on my makeup–all the good things.

And take pictures before I walk out the front door.  Always be taking pictures.

And take pictures before I walk out the front door. Always be taking pictures.

With everything out of the way in my morning routine, it was time to start walking and head into work.  I threw on my walking shoes–no way I’m trying to cover a mile in heeled pumps–and headed out into the cold.  Along the way I passed three people who greeted me with a “Good Morning”, which is something I never got when I was in male mode.  I half expected someone to tell me to smile . . .

Since I’m usually one of the first ones in the office, I just entered an went to my office, which is actually an oversized cubical–sort of like the groundhog, only it doesn’t pretend to predict the weather.  I got my jacket off, changed my shoes, and then snapped a picture to prove I really was in the office and not fooling with people.

Who doesn't look their best in the harsh lights of the early morning office?

Who doesn’t look their best in the harsh lights of the early morning office?

I got my coffee, stomping all the way to the break room at the other side of the building, because when you wear a size 11 women’s wedge heeled shoe, and the floor is covered without insulated padding between the pull-up carpet squares above and the concrete below, you’re gonna make some noise when you walk.  Then it was back to the office cube and another picture.

Much better now that I'm just about to mainline java.

Much better now that I’m about to put down my first cup of the morning.

People came down to see me a few times during the day to tell me they had my back.  People who spoke with me that day were kind and curious–and you can’t help but be curious, can you?  I wa in a couple of meetings that day, and no one thought it strange.  Everyone addressed me by my chosen name after I told them what it was, and I expect that to continue.

In short, by the time I got home last night I was pretty high on myself.  I felt great, although I was tired:  not getting a lot of sleep the night before took its told, and I was nodding on and off from about eight-thirty on.  I had the story ready to go, but there was no way I was going to write anything worthwhile:  I was simply too tired.

But I’m better now, and I expect to do some writing when I get home from work tonight.  I’ll get right to that after I eat.

There you have it:  the tale of a new office lady.  One who I believe will be around for while.

Now that I've had my close up, I should get back to writing.

Now that I’ve had my close up, I should get back to writing.

The Ending Starts

The last week I’ve really slowed down a bit on the writing–and yet, in a way, I haven’t.  I didn’t do a lot of writing last night, for which I blame my energy levels being down, and Inherent the Wind and Forbidden Planet being on back-to-back, I was sort of pulled away from the novel.  The funny thing, however, is that when I worked up what I wrote Sunday morning and added it to what I wrote Sunday Night, it’s came out to about twelve hundred words for the day.  I’ve written more, but I’ll take twelve hundred a day.

I realized last night I’m fighting the of the novel.  It’s one of those, “I don’t want to go moments,” and I’m working through it.  The strange thing is when you’re tired you feel like everything you’re writing is drab, and I was getting that feeling last night.  What I had to do to break out of that feeling was go back and read what I’d laid down in the morning, when I’d set down close to nine hundred words in about an hour and a half.  It’s the same ebb and flow, and I knew it was the same thing, the same words, the same characters.  And I felt more alive writing them twelve hours earlier than I had at night.

It’s funny how our minds work against us this way.  I should go back and reread some of my older posts about getting to this point in a story, because I know I’ve been here before.  I had a lot of problems writing the end of Suggestive Amusements because of what I had to do at the end of that story, and I just didn’t want to go there.  It was hard, so hard to get that ending in place.  Also Echoes.  I cried pretty much through the last two pages of writing, because of what the characters meant to me, and the feeling behind the character.

Like a certain Doctor I don’t like to say goodbye.  But I know I won’t be saying goodbye, really, to my kids, because there are more stories to tell.  I just have to finish this novel, then edit a four hundred thousand word story in three parts, get three covers–four when I sell the “Big Book”–and get that done before I move on to B for Beginnings, the second–and I promise, shorter–novel.  It’s a lot of work, and it’s on top of all the other things I have happening right now–

Like getting ready to come out at work next week.

This is the last Monday for the “Old Me” at work, and with the clothing in place–with a few bobbles here and there–I’m ready to go.  It’s just getting to that point where I can blow this final week off and move one.  The term “waiting for the other shoe to drop” has a different meaning for me right now, and I know I’m gonna be geared up come next Monday.  And thinking about finishing this novel isn’t helping.

"Send Annie and Kerry off to their homes alone and figure out how long it's gonna take me to do my make up in the morning.  This is so not fair!"

“Send Annie and Kerry off to their homes alone and figure out how long it’s gonna take me to do my makeup in the morning. This is so not fair!”

I will promise myself right now that I will finish the Invitation scene tonight.  Once that’s finished, that’s really the penultimate “school event” and then it’s a goodbye to all the students and . . . then Annie and Kerry start the trip home.  With a few stops along the way, but–

This is it.  It’s the beginning of the summertime blues.

The Tired Trek

The last thirty-six hours have been presented me with a real challenge:  how does one write when they aren’t there mentally?

It’s a strange feeling, let me tell you, but this whole weeks has been a bit of a writing bummer.  I’ve been managing five hundred words here, six hundred there, and while I was able to manage nearly twelve hundred on Wednesday night–which really is my night to shine–last night I managed only two hundred twenty-two, and I struggled the whole while I put that out.  Part of the reason was eating way more than I should have:  for some reason I was in the mood to pig out, and I overdid the carbs something spectacular.  That didn’t help at all.

Another reason is I’m tired.  I was up at four in the morning Friday, and last night I was up and down the whole evening, finally giving up the struggle to crawl out of bed about four-twenty and sit in my leather easy chair until about five, at which point I figured it was time to start getting ready for the long day ahead.

Why the trouble sleeping?  I’ve a few troubles going on:  there’s a friend I’m concerned about, and in another week I’m moving on from my old life and into the new one as I finally come out at work.  Nothing really major here, but it all adds up after a while and starts playing on your mind.  Particularly the coming out thing at work:  I’ve finally pulled the trigger on that matter, and though I’ve known it was going to happen one day, it doesn’t mean that I’m not finally getting a case of nerves over the fact that people I’ve worked with for a year and a half are now gonna deal with the New Girl in the Office.

Come on, who wouldn't love that shinny face?  Probably a few people, that's who.

Come on, who wouldn’t love that shiny face? Probably a few people, that’s who.

I’m also recognizing that the end of the novel is near, and I know this is gonna sound strange, but this time, I really don’t want it all to end.  Yes, it’s been a huge part of my life–sixteen months by the time I finally put it to bed–and it’s not only hard to say goodbye to these kids of mine, but there’s the realization that I don’t know when I’m going to revisit them.  There is a need to get out some other stories, and that will take me away from Salem and my Baby Snakes.

I have to finish this story.  And in a way, like them, I know they’re going to be real sadness when that happens.  I even had one of the lines I want to write for them in my head not long after I woke up–which followed, incidentally, a lyric from Wichita Lineman, “And I need you more than want you; and I want you for all time–” which was in my head as I opened my eyes this morning.  Those kids:  they won’t let me sleep.

A smoothie later and I’m finally waking up.  There is shopping ahead of me today, and I hope to get back into the story tonight after I return from my long afternoon trek.  Being out trying on clothes I’ll use for work should go a long ways towards waking me up.

Let’s hope the drive home doesn’t make me sad as I revisit the story once more . . .

The Hall of the Mountain Queen

Yesterday, Friday, was a lazy day.  I wasn’t exactly busy, but at the same time I wasn’t eager to do anything.  Like writing–

I work on this blog every day.  I’ve had people tell me that this isn’t real writing, but then again, if it’s not, what is it?  I’m of the opinion that if you write, it doesn’t matter what you write, it’s still writing.  I forget who said it–may have been Stephen King–but he said something along the lines of, “If you don’t have ideas coming to you, or you’re finding it difficult to write about anything, start typing out things.  Songs you like, your grocery list, names of places you want to visit.  Keep typing, and eventually you’ll find get through your block and write.”

That’s why I blog.  If I keep writing, every day, then when it comes time to do something I need to write–like a story–then it’s not a problem:  I’ll sit right down and get to writing.  You’re working on the skill, developing it further, and it will eventually show in your other work.

That’s the hope.  As another writer said–the name escapes me at the moment–if after a year or two, your writing hasn’t improved, you haven’t started to take chances with your work, then you’re not growing.  You’re not trying to improve, you’re just sort of marking time.

This is my little mountain hall, my blog.  I have another, but I’ve been really lazy about going there, and I should do something about that.  But this one, the one I’ve stuck with for a little over two years, is my fortress.  I have my followers, and you’re all very good to me.  A few of you even know me beyond this blog, which is both strange and crazy when I think about it.

I try to think of how I look, sitting in my mountain hall, upon my throne, waiting for my subjects to appear.  I could say I’m like the Lady Death of Blogging, but that could be a bit scary, don’t you think?  Or am I sitting here in my Witchblade armor, pretty much naked, my body all bent and twisted like I’m constructed out of Rob Liefeld’s best imagination?  Maybe I’m more Jean Grey-like, ready to eat a planet on a moment’s notice.  Naw, not that:  she’s been dead for eight years, though she’ll probably come back to life one of these days–again.

Whatever it is, I’m here, in control of my works and words, and doing both as much as is possible.

I had a couple of people tell me that I’m an inspiration, because I work at this craft every day, and I never seem to give up.  It’s not easy–the working part, not the inspiration.  I do this because I want to do this, and I want to do it every day for the rest of my life.  It’s my dream, you know?  But I find it easy to want to give up.  I find it easy to walk away, sometimes forever.  Quitting is easy–

Writing is hard.

This is post seven hundred and fifty, and in another eight or nine months I’ll have a cool thousand to my name.  Sometime in early 2014 I’ll sit down and come up with a cool name for post number one thousand, and recollect.  Maybe I’ll even have some good news to tell you about a novel I’ve just published.

Until then, feel free to hang about the fortress.

The Mountain Queen is always in.

 

Q1 and Done

It’s the end of the month as we know it, and I feel fine, save for the soreness in my legs.  Too much time on my feet, too much time laying on a bed that hurting my calves for some reason.  Or maybe it’s me:  maybe my weight is pressing down on my lower extremities and causing problems.

Last year this time I was lamenting over writers, people who usually make things up for a living, being unable to make up the names of towns and people.  I read this post over last night, and was struck by the fact that most of the people who I’d written about don’t seen to write these days.  When I joined a few writing groups on Facebook back in 2011, it seemed as if there were  hundreds of people posting about what they were going to write, what they were writing–and then, how they couldn’t finish what they started.

Today, those same groups seem to be inhabited by a few dozen hard core members, and a few dozen more people who flit in and out when they decided to pick up their book and get back into The Great and Not So Loving Game.

Writing wears you out.  I managed to edit two chapters of Replacements last night, maybe twenty-seven hundred words total, and when I was finished I wanted to write something new, but couldn’t.  I was starting to nod at the computer, and trying to crank out anything that would have made sense wouldn’t have made sense at all.

In his March 30 blog post, Neil Gaiman offered a few simple words for writers:  “Write.  Finish Things.  Keep Writing.”  Sure, you’re thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, Mr. Last Cybermen!”, but at one time he was just like everyone else, working hard to get into the biz.  He’s now in the biz, and he still works hard, only now he does it full time, whereas most of us need another job to play the bills.

My biggest problem was always finishing things.  I’d jump into a story with both feet, burn through ten, twenty thousand words, and then–nada.  I’d get disappointed, depressed, defeated:  the story before me had to be crap, so why bother?  It’s not like anyone’s going to read it . . .

I’d say that’s a mindset that it not just unique to me; I’m almost certain there are others out there who end up feeling the same way.  I even get that feeling still, only it starts kicking in about forty-five thousand words into a novel, and it screws with me until I’m about ten to fifteen thousand words from the finish line.

And then I find the strength to make my way to “The End”.

I’ve told people I know that one of the reasons I keep a blog, one of the reasons I write every day whether or not I have anything interesting to say, is that it keeps me thinking, it keeps the mind going, it keeps me writing.  Without it I might not ever bother pulling out a manuscript and doing anything with it, and just become another of those left by the Writing Wayside.  That’s not completely true, but I do feel as if my blog keeps me anchored and focused on my goal of becoming a full-time writer.

Back on December 1 I detailed what I’d written up to that point over the course of a year and change.  At that point, with everything from the end of 2011, and all over 2012, I’d calculated I’d written approximately 568,000 words.  What I should say is that I wrote and finished that much, because I don’t consider the story worthwhile if I haven’t finished it.  During 2012 I started a story for someone, got about five thousand words into it, and then put it away, because what I was writing wasn’t me; the story didn’t feel right.  And to have went on would have meant doing something that I wasn’t going to enjoy, or take from the work any pride.

Since I wrote that last post I’ve written another novel, and blogged every day.  Suggestive Amusements ended up running just over seventy-one thousand words, while the blog has averaged about five hundred fifty words a day for 121 day, or right at sixty-six thousand, five hundred fifty words.  Add all that up, and at the end of Q1 (the First Quarter of the year, as we call it in the business world), I’ve another 137,550 finished words added to my total.

Plug in the numbers from before 1 December, 2012, and we have a new total:  705,550 words.  Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!

Yes, there is marketing and editing and getting a great book cover, but the above is the real heart of the issue:  writing and finishing.  You wanna walk that walk, you gotta do diligence.

You gotta write; you gotta finish; you gotta write some more.

Which reminds me–

I got some writing to do.

 

Office Gatherings for the Fictionally Inclined

Today is not the sort of day one wants to wake up for.  It’s cold, and we’re expecting a winter storm tomorrow.  My right ear seems to have become infected, and it’s bad enough that I can’t put my earbud in since the canal appears to have swollen.  The room is cold, and my cold, while nearly gone, is forcing me to clear out whatever I have in my lungs on a pretty regular schedule.

Another day in the sunshine–who doesn’t live for that?Little Miss Hellspawn

So here I am, Little Miss Hellspawn, thinking about what I’m going to write, the people whose lives I’m going to destroy, the souls I’m going to drag screaming off to my realm . . . just kidding about those last two, because, as I said, I’m total pussycat.  Look at those pretty eyes:  are those the eyes of someone who’d run you through with one of her shoulder spikes?

I was playing with making pictures like the one at right, while chatting with a friend.  I felt a bit uninspired for writing, in part because I’m finding it hard to type for long periods of time when I’m coughing up a hurricane, but in part because I know what I have to write, and my mind is saying, “You need to be in a good place when you write this next scene.”

Suggestive Amusements has reached a point where things will begin going sideways, where events that people didn’t know could happy will, and some of what’s coming isn’t going to be good.  I’m starting with that now, and while the first couple of thousand words came pretty easy, I’m feeling the hesitation to begin writing what’s next because those same events are a little to close to my own experiences . . .

I’ve been in situations at work where I’ve had to sit in an office and hear about how I’ve been . . . lacking.  Where I’ve been told I don’t handle interaction with users well.  Where I’ve been told–well, that my services were no longer required.  It’s never a good feeling, and after twenty-five plus years of dealing with that crap, it’s something I’d like to put behind me.

Except you never really put these things behind you, right?  You remember ever slight from every person you ever worked with, particularly if they occupied a position high enough up the hierarchy that their action, no matter how misinformed or idiotic, will not only affect your position, but possibly your life.

I’ve found myself in the position of being surprised by a change that I never saw coming, and this hasn’t been a one time event:  I can name at least three times when it’s happened.  It’s never been good, and one time pretty much changed me in ways I can’t get into without writing a story about it.

Which, in a way, is what I’m doing with Suggestive Amusements.  Some of what is happening to Keith has happened to me, and his reactions . . . okay, so he’ll handle things a little differently then I did, but that’s why one takes their experience and sometimes writes it into a story.

Then again, I am making everything up.  Aren’t I?

Revenge Served Lukewarm

Last night was Hack and Slash writing time:  the cold was there in strength  and I was hacking like crazy, trying to get whatever had taken up residency in my chest the hell out.  It left the throat raw, but it did help clear the lungs–much in the same way a barium enema will eventually clear up that bloated feeling you’re experiencing.

I decided to go old school for writing last night, doing something I did when I started my story Kuntilanak almost a year and a half ago:  I cued up Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s Pictures at an Exhibition, knew I had forty-four minutes to crank out some wordage, and went to town.

The story is picking up about a week and a half after the events of Chapter Eleven, and Keith is feeling somewhat–lets say different.  He’s in tune to the story; he knows what he wants to say, and he’s getting it all down in the written form.  Erin the Muse is busy with other things–things that got me a stuck-out tongue when I posted a few short paragraphs of the story after I was finished–and Keith is wondering hard if maybe something changed because they hooked up.  Anything is possible, because I’m Erin’s boss, and what I say goes, right?

Something is about to happen in Keith’s life, and I’d be lying if I said not only has this happened to me, but what follow is probably something I would loved to have done, but never did.  Call it Revenge Fantasy, which for me is petty mild, because the days where I’d plot and plot and plot some devious shit to those who’d wronged me are well in the past.  See, this is why you should go into therapy.  It does work.

I had some qualms about putting this chapter in the novel, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make sense.  Keith is at a turning point in his life, and just as Erin kicked his butt to get him going on this story, he needs another kick to remind him that he shouldn’t live today for tomorrow like he was immortal, the only survivors on this world of ours are the warming sun, the cooling rain,
the snowflake drifting on the breath of the breeze . . . oh, wait:  I’ve been listening to too much Burning Rope.

But it’s true:  we don’t get the dreams we want, we have to go after them.  No one has ever walked into a place where I’ve worked, pointed at me, and said, “Cassie!  I need you to write a novel that’s going to be big!  Come on, girl, lets go!”  No, it’s always been something short of an eye roll whenever I’ve mentioned that I’m trying to become a full-time writer, like I should be happy cleaning up after ever mess ever left by an egotistical manager.  Don’t reach for dreams, they’re saying.  You’re crazy to think you can do something that you’re not suppose to do . . .

I’ve chided other people for buying into the revenge fantasy memes that pop up on Facebook almost every day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have moments when I think I should have done something like flip over a table and run out of a room laughing like a loon.  I once did tell a room full of people, after being told I was being laid off, that it was a good think I was on meds, otherwise my departure might go a little differently–and that day I had someone watching me like a hawk the entire time until I was in my car and out the company parking lot.  Not that I would have done anything, but it’s always good to keep the suckers guessing . . .

I’ll give Keith a little room to move, to express some opinions that I should have, but didn’t.  Maybe he’ll even have a parting shot as he leaves the building–

Sometimes I just can’t help be a wise ass when the need arises.