STATUS: Friday, June 17th

The Daily Report

Last night I couldn’t sleep and vented some of my anxieties around money. This morning I felt much better for having done so, more emotionally secure though just as financially insecure as I was last night.

With some of the pressure released, I took a few moments to do some quick calculations. Now, how much money I’m making this month is a bit up in the air until the end of the month, but by my best estimation, at 40 hours/week, I’m going to finish June just north of $5 an hour.

That’s not a living wage. It’s not minimum wage. But you know what? It’s better than I thought. It’s not as well-off as I’ve ever been, but it’s a start.

One of the next thoughts that occurred to me is that I’ve made more money than this in the past, and at the point where I did, I had set a goal to reach that particular point and then hit it. And after that I floundered, because I didn’t have a goal beyond the nebulous “make more money?”, and that was a lot harder to focus on.

I talked yesterday in this space about how writing is a creative endeavor, which means there’s a psychological component to it. I suppose the same is true of every pursuit, to varying degrees, but I know from experience it’s easier to keep punching numbers into a database when you don’t have a higher purpose than it is for me to keep writing and creating without one.

So I’m setting my sights on a goal. I’m at or just above $5 an hour. The next goal is $10 an hour, at which point I’ll be able to contribute regularly to household expenses. But that’s an intermediate step. My actual goal right now, the prize on which my eyes are fixed, will be $15, the living wage. I see absolutely no reason why a writer with my talents, my experience, and my ability to draw people in and compel them couldn’t make a living wage at it, in this day and age, with these tools available.

After that? Well, I know lots of numbers above $15. But one thing at a time, right?

Financial Outlook

Still skating by, still a little consumed at thoughts of how thin the ice is. If enough people sign up for my online writing class (just announced dates and times, and opened sign-ups to non-patrons), that’ll do a lot to shore things up.

The State of the Me

I felt terrible all day yesterday. Achy, sore, tired. I probably would have been non-functional without the new A/C, but as it was, I wasn’t able to set in and write.

Today I feel better throughout most of my body, but I have what I’m sure is a sinus headache and a post-nasal drip. I think I’d rate my condition and physical feelings better overall, though? We’ll see how it goes.

Plans For Today

Going to be writing.

STATUS: Wednesday, June 15th

The Daily Report

So, just when I was thinking I wasn’t having a very good day yesterday, I sat down at 4:30 and wrote a 2,400 word chapter in two hours. I also got the Tales of MU email update list running again. The new watch is definitely helping me with my routine. I have it set with timers for the start and end of my workday, lunchtime, and writing time, and I have timer presets on it for my writing sprints.

I do most of my writing on a timer, though the web-based app I got in the habit of using it was actually an alarm clock that supported multiple alarms. I used it because this let me line up a whole afternoon’s worth of sprints and rests in advance, and then just let it run. But I wound up internalizing a lot of non-helpful rituals  (like compulsively starting my writing intervals exactly on a round number minute, and delaying to the next multiple of ten if I missed it) that made my off days worse even while they ostensibly supported the habits that made most days work. It’s probably a good thing that the page basically broke (at least with regards to my current browser version), but I didn’t have a good solution.

My phone is always handy, but not in my hand. The watch is right there. I can start or pause a timer at the push of a button, without having to pull anything out or flip tabs. I can start at any time. If I have to interrupt a sprint in the middle, I can pause it and walk away, then come back and resume it. I know, I know. In theory these are things that I could have done at any time, never mind what a timer says. But writing is creative work, and there’s a huge

The State of the Me

I didn’t get much sleep last night, which is contributing to a slow start today.

Plans For Today

Honestly? Going to take a nap in a bit and then take stock again in the afternoon.

STATUS: Tuesday, June 14th

The State of the Me

Opening with this one because it might be more than usually relevant.

Every once in a while, I manage to sleep on my hand (usually my left one) weird and wake up with a thumb that feels like it was bent back weird or something. When this happens, it generally hurts for most of the day. The pain interferes with phone/tablet typing but doesn’t do much to impair regular typing, as the only thing I use my left thumb for in typing is hitting the space bar, and I have plenty of other digits that can do that, including my right thumb.

More than anything else, the pain is just a constant low level distraction at the back of my head that makes it hard to focus on anything. I have taken a 12 hour naproxen dose this morning. Hopefully that will keep it down to a dull roar, and giving it plenty of rest will help. I’d really like for it to be back to normal by this afternoon.

The Daily Report

There is minor upper respiratory illness in our house. I do not have it, though it, like my distressed thumb, is contributing a bit to the background processing load of my brain.

How much do I love my Pebble watch? So much, apparently. I have programmed M-F timers into it for start of work day, end of work day, and lunch time. I think getting a gentle buzzing reminder at set times will have a positive impact on my ability to keep a routine.

Didn’t get any kind of response to my Lord Chad, Seal Master post yesterday. That’s okay. Part of this gig is not being afraid to try things, take risks. I just went on Twitter tangent about this, starting here: https://twitter.com/alexandraerin/status/742723191706136576.

Financial Situation

Stable, if not comfortable? No real change from yesterday. Absent any unexpected windfalls, we’re going to be limping along for most of the month, and then I should have my best Patreon payout yet after the end of the month. My author Patreon is showing some growth now. It’s not like the explosive growth that some authors who made the leap from traditional funding to crowdfunding got, but it’s getting back up into the neighborhood of where it was before I split Tales of MU into its own thing. Growth over time is good. It’s more likely to be sustainable.

Plans For Today

The errands I was talking about yesterday wound up delayed until today, due to aforementioned illness in the house. Between that and my thumb, I’m making no solid plans except for Tales of MU. Basically keeping the decks cleared for making sure that happens as scheduled.

 

 

Some random stuff.

Okay, so.

My phone is dying. Definitely dying. It’s doing this thing where it will randomly start rebooting itself and then get stuck in a loop, burning up 10 or 15 percentage points of its power each time. It has only done it a whopping total of 3 times, one of them on the way home from WisCon. Jack’s phone (an LG G3) did this a few months back, much more consistently. That was apparently a firmware problem, and they gave him a G4 to replace it. I don’t know if this is a similar issue that can afflict G2s, or something else. This is on top of general flakiness regarding the software keyboard, and other issues.

This is more inconvenient than anything, as I have a protection plan. I was hoping I could just move my phone service onto the household account when my individual contract is up in July; when I’ve had to use file for a replacement in the past, they’ve made me re-up. I’m not sure if that’s still true, particularly as I think AT&T has moved away from the contract model? The point is I’m probably going to have to deal with this, in some fashion, and to put it bluntly: I don’t wanna.

My bluetooth keyboard is already dead. Don’t know what’s up with it, but it won’t pair/communicate with any device. Tried recharging it and everything. Well, I tried recharging it. Replacement is already on its way, should be here today.

The confluence of these things—phone not working, tablet not having a physical keyboard—have slowed my writing down a bit. They’re why my tweeting fell off during the con. Things will get a bit better when the replacement keyboard arrives. I would rather have a phone that functions over a tablet, but I can write better and faster with a physical keyboard than a touch device, regardless of what the device actually is.

My birthday is in just under a week, on June 10th. I’m turning 36, which is an especially pleasing age because it’s a perfect square with a lot of factors. If you would like to do something to help me mark it, suggestions would include:

  1. Throw money into my con travel fund (it’ll go to the WorldCon hotel at this point, as I have airline tickets and will be buying memberships when the money next settles in my account): http://www.gofundme.com/ae2worldcon
  2. Get something off my Amazon wishlist. http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/3K5TGO7OL84A8/
  3. Become a monthly sponsor on Patreon (get one free short story and a zine version of my writing output each month). http://www.patreon.com/alexandraerin
  4. Sponsor Tales of MU chapters on Patreon. http://www.patreon.com/talesofmu

 

STATUS: Friday, May 20th

The State of the Me

As if to remind me that I’m not invincible, I had the worst insomnia episode of 2016 last night. As in, total insomnia. Did not sleep a wink until after the sun came up and I was able to pass out from sheer exhaustion. Hence there’s been something of a slow start to today.

Plans For Today

No long introspection today. Just a plan of action. I am going to be changing up a few things on my personal Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/alexandraerin) and on my newly established Tales of MU Patreon (http://www.patreon.com/talesofmu). Right now, you might notice that my personal one has a banner referencing Tales of MU. That should give you some idea what kind of changes I’m talking about.

I’ll be making another blog post directly after this one about another crowdfunding development, and I had a tweet stream that I will either collect into a storify or assemble into a blog post, as part of a new effort to make sure that my utterances do not simply vanish into the void. You know Dr. Doom has recording devices in his armor that records everything he says for posterity? The Marvel 1602 version kidnapped William Shakespeare for the same reason. I really need to do one or the other of those things, one of these days.

 

OW, MY BACK!… from outer space. You just walked in to find me here with this pained look upon my face.

I went to bed last night with a slight backache, which I hoped would improve with a good night’s sleep. I woke up today to find that it had. Indeed, the backache is doing much better today and I, for my pains, am doing so much worse.

The only two spots in the house where I can find any comfort are my computer chair (which is actually a reclining rocker/glider with excellent head, neck, and back support), and the bathtub, which has a back that slopes just the right way. This is fairly convenient for me as these are two of my favorite places and two of the places from which I do my best writing, but the pain still gets in the way of things. It’s especially bad when I laugh… I feel these little twinges in the muscles up and down my spine.

In other news, I just made hotel reservations for MidAmerica Con, also known as WorldCon. We left it a bit late. I’ve been on the fence about whether it would be worth it to go or not. The pros are that it’s likely to be our best chance to make it to a WorldCon anytime soon, it’s conveniently located to possibly seeing family on the same trip, I vaguely know the area, and is an outside chance I might be on a shortlist this year, and even if I’m not it would be nice to meet and interact with some of the people I came across as part of last year’s events. The cons are: it’s expensive, and we don’t have a lot of money.

That’s only one con compared to a laundry list of pros, but in the end, the money question is likely to provide the final answer to whether or not we make it. If you’d like to weigh in… well, I’m a crowdfunded artist, so my tip jar is always open. For now, I’m proceeding to do things under the assumption that we will go, because if I wait too long then the opportunity will pass. I feel like I just squeeked by under the wire on getting a hotel room, even one two blocks from the convention proper.

In other other news, my recent spate of D&D campaign prep has got me thinking about the way I write fiction and whether the things I have told myself in my self-analysis of my writing stle and processes have all been true and useful.

I have in the past been dismissive of doing a lot of prepwork before writing, feeling that past a certain point it becomes a substitute for actually writing. I know people who have written literally hundreds of thousands or even millions of words in preparation for novels they intend one day to write, when they’re ready… but they never will be, because there are always more details to nail down. I certainly had phases of my creative life where I was like that.

But while I think there is something to be said for the danger of succumbing to a kind of perfectionism/completionism when it comes to your prep, I think I may have thrown a valuable and precious baby out with the bathwater when I discounted the value of such prepwork.

I’ve done more written prep for the Deepjammer campaign than I have for anything else, game or story, in over a decade. I did it mainly because I have a whole cast of players who will effectively be my collaborators in the setting, so I needed to bring it to life for them. What surprised me most is how much material I generated quite easily and quickly (enough words to fill 120 pages in standard typeset in about a week), and while those hundred thousand-plus words are not themselves a single cogent narrative, I now know enough about the setting and many of the people there that I could sit down and fairly effortlessly hammer such a narrative out off the top of my head…

And that’s the kind of easy-breezy free-flowing writing that I aspire to. Which just goes to show, it takes a lot of effort to write effortlessly.

Busy, busy day…

Well, today’s the day we send Angels out into the world. It’s going to be a busy, busy day of making sure this is absolutely the best it can be. Next week is my last week of jury duty, and I have been informed now that it’s going to be a short one as the court wraps up its business for the March session. I am officially off the hook after Tuesday.

Quick Note

This stuff is subject to last minute cancellations/reductions, but as of right now this is scheduled to be my busiest week re: jury duty so far. It’s also the second to last one. Just want to let everyone know that I’m still around and doing things.

The Amazing Rubberband of Personal Progress

So, a perfect example of how progress is not strictly linear: Wednesday was a textbook good day. I was writing, I was blogging, I was posting. If you compare my behavior to what I said about my fear of communication, it would seem like I was “better” as in the problem was fixed, not just doing better.

I woke up Thursday ready to do it all over again, and… didn’t. Couldn’t. Sat staring at the screen. Had ideas, but no means to express them.

Today I woke up full of trepidation about how yesterday went, but it’s not so bad that I can’t work through it. So I am.

At the same time, this is progress. I tell other people all the time that “better” is a process, not an end result. I’m getting better. Wednesday was a proof that cannot be invalidated by Thursday. It still happened, no matter what happened (or didn’t happen ) the next day.

I used to find this elastic snapping back extremely discouraging. It’s not become a welcome spring breeze, but I now recognize it’s not a failure.

Let It Blow, Let It Blow, Let It Blow

Thank every star in the heavens and some in other places, but five days since the snow started and three days after it ended, we are finally going to be able to get out of our driveway. The farthest I’ve been out of the house since at least Thursday was yesterday when I trudged across three yards’ worth of snow to help bring in an emergency grocery drop from Sarah’s parents, parked at the mouth of the alley behind our house.

Given that I sometimes go a week without going anywhere, you wouldn’t think that cabin fever would be a thing, but it’s different when it’s voluntary and you don’t have to worry about when the next time you’ll be able to get to the store is.

The cats are fascinated by the snowblower at work. They’ve been absolutely rapt by this whole drama. It’s not their first winter, but probably the first one they remember. During the blizzard they sat at the window, wide-eyed and trying to track individual flakes as they fell, occasionally looking over their shoulders at us as if to gauge our reactions and figure out if they should be doing something more to let us know about all this fluffy whiteness going on.