So, I’m cheating a little bit today, but only sorta. As you can see, I’m still writing part of this blog, so I am not actually counting this as a cheat, but, at the same time, the bulk of today’s content isn’t coming from me, it’s coming from my daughter, Danica.
F is for family, and my family are the biggest supporters of my writing. They put up with me living in my own head far too often, they don’t mind when I bounce ideas off them (and they don’t take offense when I shake my head and say ‘No, no, that will never work’). They contribute ideas to my fishbowl. They don’t complain that our house isn’t spotless, or that our income isn’t higher (as it would be if I had a paying job). They are always there for me and if it weren’t for them… well, let’s not go there.
I asked Danica if she’d like to write about what it’s like to have a writer for a mother for my blog. Her response? “You have a blog?”
LOL Okay, so they are super supportive, but that doesn’t mean they follow my blog :-p After I told her that yes, I did have a blog, she was happy to complain about me in public on it.
Hi, I’m Danica, Rhonda’s daughter. I really have no idea what to write about in this blog, so I guess I’ll talk about writing, and how living with a writer can sometimes suck.
My mom, as you can tell is a writer, and I’ve picked up a few things from her. For instance, if you have writers block, just write. What you write may sound stupid, but it usually helps to get rid of that pesky writers block.
One horrible thing about living with a writer is: If I say something that is not grammatically correct, my mom corrects what I say. Or, if I’m just being silly she’ll correct what I say anyways. It can be pretty annoying, but you learn to live with it.
Here’s another thing: My mom said I have to write a conclusion for this, but I don’t want to. So here’s my ‘conclusion’. Don’t live with a writer unless you love them a lot, like how my dad and I love my mom.
Short and sweet, eh? This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter F. Please pop by tomorrow when I’ll be talking about… um… something… something Grrreat! My schedule says Goodreads, so maybe… 🙂
Really I ought to have a ‘before’ picture of myself to go with this blog post, but, since I’m totally avoiding being in front of cameras these days, a shot of Jo’s bicycle will have to do instead. I avoid having my picture taken because I don’t like how I look, and I don’t like how I look because I’m overweight. You know those ladies who are overweight and gorgeous? Yeah. I’m not one of them. Fun, fun.
The good news is that this year I made losing weight one of my highest priorities. I need to be healthier (and obese is not healthy) if I want to live long enough to write even a fraction of the story and poem ideas that are jammed into my brain.
Health: This relates to my writing because the healthier I am the more productive (and less dead) I am.
Continue to eat healthy. In my case that is a low-sodium pescatarian diet.
No drinking energy drinks
Remember soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ (Thanks Cookie Monster)
Workout at least five times a week*
Lose 40lbs (and 64lbs overall)
I’m doing a fairly good job of sticking to these goals. I’m struggling a little bit with the soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ but otherwise things are going well. No energy drinks, I’ve lost 9lbs as of today (I wrote and pre-scheduled this post on March 17th) and I’m pretty good at forcing myself to exercise. The thing is, it hurts LoL
Mostly I’ve been using my stationary exercise bike. I do a pretty intensive 1/2 hour workout on it six days a week. Because that’s exclusively a lower body workout I’ve also been sneaking in a 30 Day Shred workout every once in a while, and now, with the Xbox Kinect I got for my birthday present I’ve decided to add in a Kinect workout regularily too. I’d love to do it everyday, but realistically I think three times a week would be great, because, as I may have mentioned, it hurts.
I have a buggered up ankle that doesn’t like impact much and I’m really out of shape. Really, really out of shape.
Every time I do a full body workout I’m Limpy McGimpsalot the next day. Not just a little bit either, like wincing and moaning everytime I go up or down stairs, sit down, stand up… you get the idea. Sometimes it takes several days before I stop being Ms. Wussypants, and I think I have a pretty high threshhold for pain LOL I’ve been forcing myself to do light workouts (on the bike) on my hurty days (usually) and that often helps reduce the pain, but damn. Hurtiness sucks.
So, for all you in-shape and exercisey-type people… it does stop hurting at some point, right?
I don’t mind a little discomfort, and exercise-sore is actually a kind of satisfying pain, but I could do with a little less of it, to be honest. Please tell me that this is going to decrease if I stick to this LOL
ETA: It turns out that at the peak of my pain I’d actually injured myself (groin owiness) and not really known that was the case and not just that exercise hurts. I took a couple days off and healed up and now I’m back to normal exercise-related aches and pains. The satisfying kinds. I’m still curious though, will these go away as I get more in shape, or not really because, presumably, I’ll always keep pushing myself?
This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter E. Please pop by tomorrow when my daughter will be doing a guest blog about what it’s like to have a writer in the Family.
Chances are pretty high that you know what I’m talking about. A google or two told me that 7% of adult Americans suffer from depression in any given year, and since those 7% have friends and families, I’m betting if you haven’t had to deal with depression directly you’ve still been indirectly affected by watching a loved one struggle.
When I get depressed it tends to manifest in a lack of things. A lack of energy, a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of interest, a lack of concentration, a lack of focus, an inability to fall asleep at night, weight gain despite all efforts to lose it and headaches all_the_freaking_time. I’m not suicidal, I don’t curl up in a corner and cry*, but I’m not myself. I’m not the version of myself I want to be.
I hate the way it affects my family. I hate the effect it has on my writing. I just plain hate it.
It’s funny to me how difficult it has been for me to write this post. It’s not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed about depression, it’s because I’ve always struggled to not let it be an excuse for the things I do (or don’t do)… but I’m coming to realise that sometimes it might be a reason. I don’t like it. I don’t like feeling like I’m both blessed and handicapped by my brain, I don’t like realising that I’m going to have years, like last year, where I don’t get much of anything accomplished because I’m spending all my energy just keeping my head above water. I. Hate. It.
I’ve learned a lot of coping strategies over the years; little tricks, baby steps, whatever it takes to get what I need to do done, but though they help I resent their necessity.
One thing about depression, for me, anyway, is it does a fabulous job of showing me what things in my life are the most important to me. Family first, then friends, and then, like a lazer, it cuts through all the other things I do, and shows me which ones I can continue, and which need to be put aside until that bout with depression is through. But depression is also sneaky. It always leaves, eventually, but its shadow is always over my life because I know it will come back, someday, it will come back. I never know when, how hard it’s going to hit me, or how long it’s going to stay, but I know it will be back.
When I’m really low I can’t find the energy to care that I’m not writing because I’m spending most of it blaming myself for not getting anything done, but, at times like these when I feel like I’m climbing (oh so slowly) out of that hole, I try to remind myself of all the hardships other people have had to overcome, and I tell myself I can do this. I’m a fighter. I won’t give up. I will accomplish my goals, whether my brain likes it or not…
But damn, I wish it were easier.
If you’re dealing with depression and you feel all alone I swear to you, you’re not. You’re not alone. There are people, like me, who feel your pain and are pulling for you. We really, really are. Fuck Depression. Don’t let it beat you.
This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter D. Please pop by tomorrow when I’ll be talking about… um… something that begins with E. I’m sure it will be awesome… maybe.
ETA: I know there is medication that could possibly help me with this, but I’ve decided to not take it until I have exhausted every other possibility open to me. I already take a lot of medication, I don’t want to add another to the list if I don’t absolutely have to.
Critique groups and critique partners are two different things. Each group, each person, has their own personality, their own set of pros and cons. I’ve been in terribad critique groups that actually sucked the life out of my writing (and out of me) and I’ve been in fantastic groups that inspired me to write and kept me constantly striving for improvement.
The most recent group I was in was a good one, and we used to meet in a local bar that had a popcorn machine. Like, a big popcorn machine, the type you see at movie theaters. Best of all, the popcorn was free so we’d meet for critiques and totally nom on the popcorn while we were there. It was a good group, small, (only four of us) but friendly and positive. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with small groups, if even one person’s schedule gets changed you’re kinda screwed. That’s what happened to us, but though we no longer meet up weekly to critique each other’s work, we do get together occasionally just to talk, vent and hang out with a friend who knows what we’re going through in our writerly life.
Even without my group I still occasionally (okay, nearly always) want someone else to look over my work, to help me see the warts I’ve missed and polish up the pretty bits until they shine. On those cases I turn to my critique partners. I’ve had several over the years, and I’ve even paid for critiques (via charity auction) from some writers or editor’s whose opinions I respect.
I’ve received awesome critiques from a lot of people, I don’t want to start naming them because I’m sure to forget someone, just know that the list is long and filled with awesome. The #1 person I have turned to when I needed a critique over the past several years though, has been BD Wilson. We met in a critique group a few years ago and despite a bit of a rocky start (I certainly didn’t accidentally spoil a movie for her or anything, nope nope) we’ve become good friends. In our critique group we called her The Sledgehammer because that’s about how subtle her critiques are — but they are GOOD critiques. I’ve always envied how good her critiques are. Really. She has a skill, a way of figuring out what’s wrong with a story, and showing you in such a way that you can’t miss it, and you can usually figure out how to fix it. She’s made an awful lot of work for me over the years, rewriting, revising, totally scrapping things and trying them another way, but in the process she’s also helped to make me a better writer, and my stories far better than they would be without her.
Thank you, BD 🙂
The other fantastic person who regularily reads over my work and offers valuable feedback is Lauren. Lauren and I meet once a month to hang out, eat deep fried pickles (Okay, so maybe that part is all me, but zomg, so good!) and critique each other’s work. Honestly, even without the critiquing I would look forward to our meetings, because she’s a friend and a fellow writer, and as any writer can tell you, there is something incredibly energizing about hanging out with another writer. The whole “they understand you like non-writers can’t” thing is a little trite, and perhaps overblown, but it’s based in truth. Adding the wonderful social element to valuable critique though makes it a wonderful thing. Lauren doesn’t actually read the genres I write in (except for my work, of course) and I’ve come to find that is a huge, huge asset come critique time. She’s not just going to accept something I’ve written because ‘that’s how it works in fantasy books’ or ‘well, it’s a zombie, so um, yeah?’. It helps me to not only craft better stories, but to become a stronger writer too.
Thank you, Lauren 🙂
Do you have a favourite critique partner? What is it about their feedback that really helps you? Do you send them work as you’re going, or only when it’s complete?
I used to submit parts of works-in-progress to my critique group, but I quickly discovered that, for me, that was a very bad idea, but at least one member of our group used our feedback as we critiqued each of her chapters, to help her mold what was going to come next in the story.
Different approaches to critiquing and critique groups as a whole are interesting to me, I’d honestly like to hear about yours. Good or bad LOL
This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter C. Please pop by tomorrow when I’ll be talking about a super cheerful subject. D is for Depression. Wheee!
*The image I used in this blog post was taken by BD Wilson. I think that’s even a crit she did of one of my stories right there 😉
What I’ve read about branding tends to emphasize the difference between you, as a person, and you as a writer or brand. I totally fail at making that distinction. I shouldn’t be surprised, really. Once upon a time I had a pen name, and I sucked at keeping it separate from my real name too.
When you’re trying to figure out your brand you’re advised to pick a few keywords (most places I read said three) that describe you and make sure you use them in all your bios and such, and make sure all your public posts (blog, twitter, facebook, whatever) from your professional account have to do with those things in one way or another. It makes sense, right? I mean, you want people to know what to expect from you and to stay focused. In theory, if you want to have a place where you share things that are off-message you could have another, personal Twitter account/blog/whatever for that.
In theory my brand is all about writing, gaming and a little bit of crafting. That means it’s perfectly all right for me to include that picture of my main character in World of Warcraft up there (Obscenity the priest. She’s awesome.) and to talk about my writing, raids and video game crushes (Alistair from Dragon Age: Origins) on Twitter. Unfortunately, it also means that it’s not alright for me to share funny things my husband or daughter do, or complain about the scale not shifting in the right direction or whatever. I’m not okay with that. As soon as I’m told I’m not supposed to do something, guess what I want to do? Also, I’m not just about writing and gaming and crafting. I’m also about being a mom, and a wife, and going to school and Niteblade and, and…
What’s more, I totally don’t have time to get another blog or twitter account for sharing ‘personal’ things on, and I’d drive myself crazy with some things trying to figure out which account to share them from.
So… that’s why I fail at branding. Thus far I’m muddling through the whole social media thing anyway, though, and hoping enough people will be interested in ‘me’ that it’s okay I don’t have a solid focused ‘brand’. *Crosses fingers*
What do you think about branding? Do you have one? Do you care about other people’s? I’m really interested in hearing what you think.
This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter B. I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow when I’ll be talking about Critique Partners.
ETA: Since I wrote this I decided to try Robert Brewer’s Platform Challenge, so who knows, maybe I’ll get better at this branding thing 🙂
I was raised to be a Christian and it’s been pointed out that a fair amount of my work has a bit of a biblical flavour to it, but I’m an atheist.
My atheism definitely affects my writing. In fact, one of the reasons I write is because I want to leave something of me behind when I die. I have an amazing daughter I am insanely proud of, but, as much as it pains me to think it, she is also mortal. I want to leave something behind that will last. That is, for lack of a less cheesy and egotistical word, forever.
Sometimes I envy people who believe in a life after this and if I believed in God, or an afterlife, I’m sure I’d still write, but I’d lose this one motivation. I believe this lifetime is all we get, so I’m always pushing myself to make the most of it, to write something that will last beyond myself. Some people find that motivation from other places, but this one is mine.
Unfortunately that also results in a bit of a perfectionist streak which can sometimes be counter-productive, but mostly, mostly I think it helps push me to work on those days I’d rather just curl up in bed and wish the world away.
Do your religious beliefs affect your writing? For better, or for worse? I’m curious.
This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter A. If you find yourself with some extra time on your hands you might want to check out what my fellow participants are blogging about that begins with the letter A as well. I know I will be. I hope you’ll pop back again tomorrow when I’ll be blogging about Branding and how much I fail at it.
I don’t usually blog on the weekend. Hell, I don’t usually work on weekends period, but I’m making an exception today because today is the last day of sanity before the crazy that is going to be my April hits. Before I get into that though, I’d like to take a second to say yay. Yay! I am still on track with my Write1Sub1 goals. And also, thank gawd for Write 1 Sub 1. Without it to use as motivation I don’t think I would have produced any new material this month. But I did.
In March I continued to work my way (slowly) through the How to Revise Your Novel course with Twixt. I also started, then re-started a short (ghost) story. It’s going to require at least one more restart before I make it to the end, I think, but still… I also wrote several new poems which are currently resting before I go back and revise them next month and I revised two of the poems I wrote in November (O_o) and added them into my “submission pool” (for lack of a better description). That means I have 16 pieces all currently out looking for new homes. I made 10 submissions this month too, and if you’re paying attention that means you know I collected 8 rejection letters. Whee! LOL #trytryagain
Now, enough looking back, it’s time to look forward.
April is going to be nuts, because I, apparently, am nuts.
In addition to everything I usually do I am going to be participating in three separate challenges. O_o I know, right?
First I’ll be doing the Blogging from A to Z challenge. The good news on this one is that I’ve got roughly half of my blog posts already written and pre-scheduled. That doesn’t mean I won’t have anything to do on those days though, because one of the more time consuming parts of that challenge is going to be visiting the blogs of other people who are participating. Also, I expect it to mean I’ll have increased traffic here, and I like to try to reply to all the comments on my blog, so… Yeah.
I’m also going to be doing the April Poem-a-Day challenge. I’m not actually interested in entering the contest portion of the challenge, but I want to write a poem to go with each prompt, ideally on the day the prompt is offered. If you don’t think that will be a challenge perhaps you weren’t aware that I’m still working my way through the prompts from the November 2011 Poem-a-Day challenge LOL
But wait! There’s more!
I also decided to check out Robert Brewer’s April Platform Challenge. I’m not sure how much of that challenge will be applicable to me because, well, I’ve never done a platform challenge before LOL, but it should be fun to find out.
So yeah… the crazy is going to start tomorrow. I hope the daily blog posts won’t drive you all away and I hope I’ll still be standing when May 1st rolls around.
Wish me luck, I’ll need it, and if you’re participating in any of those challenges with me, let me know. Company is always a good thing 🙂
Um… can you do me a favour? You may recall I mentioned that I’d signed up for the Blogging from A to Z challenge that takes place this April. Because I know I’m going to be busier in April than I am right now (though I’m plenty busy, I assure you) I’ve begun writing and scheduling some posts. The other day I had figured out what to write for almost every letter, but Q was evading me. Then I decided — Q is for Questions.
Now I just need some. Questions, that is. To answer.
I know you are really unlikely to be sitting there thinking ‘Yay! Now I can ask Rhonda this one question that’s been burning a whole in my brain since I first knew she existed!’ but, um, if you could think of anything you’re even slightly curious about, would you please ask it? Anywhere is fine, my main blog, Livejournal, email, twitter. I’m flexible, and it doesn’t have to be serious either. I’m just looking for some questions I can put together and make a Q is for Questions blog post out of while I answer them 🙂
Thank you very much 🙂
Write 1 Sub 1 check-ins take place on Sundays and since there aren’t any left in the month, I figured today was as good a day as any to update my progress. This month, in addition to working on the revisions for Twixt and making some solid plans for my zombie chapbook (more on that later 🙂 ), I also finished rewriting a story I first drafted almost a year ago as an entry to The Whittaker Prize. I don’t remember how it scored, but it needed a lot of work. It’s received it now, and I’m pretty fond of the result. I also wrote a new poem, which was very long for me (Very, very long. Like, multiple pages long. O_o ) and revised another one. The new story and the revised poem have been added into the pool of pieces I’m currently circulating around publishers, the uber long poem is resting before I revise the crap out of it.
I also sold a story, and I’d love to celebrate it, but I haven’t received my contract yet, so all I’m willing to say is a tiny little yay over here in the corner. Once the paperwork is done I’ll definitely be more excited and share here but until then…
ETA: It’s March 1st, and I updated this post to change the image I have above there so that it has the February award graphic from the Write 1 Sub 1 website. Also, since I originally posted this I have revised a few other poems and added them into the group I’m currently subbing to publishers. I currently have 14 submissions pending at various markets.
I’ve signed up to do the Blogging from A to Z challenge in April. This may be further proof that I’m freaking crazy as I’m also planning to do the April Poem-A-Day challenge, but… well, there you go. If you’re interested in checking it out you can click on the picture which is linked to the Blogging from A to Z challenge website. The basic idea is exactly what you’d think it was — 26 blog posts over the course of April, with titles that start with the different letters of the alphabet.
Speaking of challenges, I’m still enjoying the Month of Letters challenge. I’ve stopped posting on the forums there because it was filling up my inbox with all the replies, and apparently it’s easier in my brain to just stop posting updates than it is to find the setting that would make it so I didn’t get the replies. *shrugs* It’s all good, the point for me was to do the letters, not necessarily to check-in everyday and tell people I’d done it 🙂 A couple times I’ve not written a letter on a specific day, but I’ve made up for it the next day by writing two, so that counts, right? I also received my first piece of Month of Letters snail mail yesterday, a letter from Northern Ireland. That was nice 🙂
Speaking of writing, I’m not doing a whole lot right now. Mostly I’m reading. The first step of the ‘How to Revise Your Novel’ course involves reading over the current draft of your novel and identifying what you’ve done wrong and what you’ve done right. It’s taking me a long time to do this. Partly because my first draft is handwritten with great sections marked ‘CUT THIS’ which makes reading a bit of a challenge, and also because I’m having a difficult time forcing myself to only identify problems with the story and leave problems I have with the writing for the time being. It’s killing me. Killing. I’ve failed a couple times already, but I think I’m getting a bit better at it. I have to constantly remind myself that I’ll be able to fix the writing later though.
Anyway, I was supposed to finish that read through on week one. I’m now on week three and I’m still working on it. The good news is, there’s a lot more to like about this story than I remembered, and some of the issues I thought were going to be pretty big, really aren’t. So far. I’m not done yet so there’s still plenty of time for me to become disappointed in myself. 🙂
Right, if I post this now I’ll have time to write a letter before I have to start dinner, so I’m off.
If you celebrate Valentine’s Day I hope you’re having a good one, and if you don’t, well, I hope your Tuesday is fantastic.