Monday Ramblings

•March 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

It’s been awhile. Mostly due to previously mentioned dedication to obtaining a new form of employment that does not destroy my soul on a daily basis.

That search is still, unfortunately, in progress. Job hunting feels rather Odyssey-en in nature these days, though I don’t expect to come home to my family battling a slew of suitors waiting to take my place… actually, that sounds like the interview process.

Regardless, I wanted to share a few things which are helping to maintain my sanity during this hectic, epic job hunt:

Headphones/earbuds. Blessed be the inventor of these magical creations which allow one to plug into their computer or phone, play some music, and disappear into a world free of ringing phones, angry/depressed co-workers, and anything else that serves as a reminder of your captivity.

Reading. Exhausted by job hunt websites and submitting applications, my social media interaction has dwindled significantly. What remains of my time has primarily been spent reading and writing projects that I am passionate about — while the need and desire to connect with people out there in internet land exists, it sometimes clouds the focus necessary to be active in pursuing hiring managers and assistants with your latest cover letter creation. If only cover letters were limited to 140 characters…

Sleeping. Mental exertion is exhausting, and few things are more mentally and emotionally draining on a writer than submitting applications. Compound all this with CFIDS, and you have a recipe for extreme burnout. So rather than force myself to stay awake for that one more hour push to write a few more pages (of what undoubtedly will be crap), or find three more jobs to apply for, when I’m tired and it’s dark, I go to bed. I try to recharge, because I’ll never be much use to myself, much less potential employers, if I can’t string coherent thoughts together in a submission. Even if I can’t sleep, or don’t sleep well (as is often the case), or dream of my horrible job while sleeping (which is also, horrifically, sometimes the case), it’s still me alone in a dark room, comfortable, and at least attempting to rest.

Going for a walk. Which is a thing I do not do nearly enough. However, almost every time I do, I feel a bit refreshed. And even if I don’t, at least I got up, went outside, and got away from a computer screen for a bit.

What type of tricks do you use to get yourself through long, rough journeys that you must take to get to a better place?

Viable Life Option?

•February 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Now that the Olympics have concluded, my life resumes the seemingly never-ending search for a new job and living better.
While my dream career involves being paid to create words and worlds, sometimes I just want to run off to Australia and become a professional ballroom dancer — but only with a journey a la Fran in Strictly Ballroom.
Is there a LinkedIn page for that? A career coach who can direct me down that path? A fellowship for the eternal dreamers?

Battling the Stress Beast

•February 6, 2014 • 5 Comments

Stress is a common ailment among writers, generally when nearing deadlines, starting a daunting new project, and/or beating our heads against the wall trying to overcome a block.

There’s another variety of stress which affects many writers (and creative types), however, that isn’t discussed as much. I’m referring to the stress induced not from projects, but everything else — life, family, friends, and for those of us struggling to become ‘working’ writers (as in, we get paid to write as a way of supporting our writing addiction lifestyle), being stuck as a cog in a corporate machine to avoid homelessness and maintain some form of transport.

This post is quite timely as I’ve just returned from an urgent care facility where the official diagnosis for my sudden and extreme ailment was basically: stop stress-consuming things you are sensitive to, and get a new job. I mean, clinically, I experienced a very unpleasant allergic reaction to too much dairy and red wine coupled with an allergy/stress rash, but after several assessments and conversations with some harsh but fair practitioners, their recommendation was pretty clear. Four years as a corporate drone has built up enough stress inside my body that it’s ceasing to function properly, and I need to get out.

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In an attempt to alleviate some stress, I am obviously going to need to curb my stress eating/drinking impulses to consuming things I’m not digestively sensitive to, and should really do more yoga and go for more walks. These are common sense remedies that should really be a way of life. Problem is, there’s a giant stress beast that cannot be sated by enacting these good measures alone. The only way to defeat the stress monster I’m now engaged in a full on war with is to engage in another type of battle: searching for new employment. More specifically, searching for new employment in a crap job market, trying to find something I actually want to be doing, working for a company that both pays a living wage and treats its employees like people, rather than machines or cattle.

Needless to say, while I knew this approached, I had hoped for a bit more time to prepare. Unfortunately, it’s battle it out or succumb at this point, and surrender is not in my nature. Therefore, posts about job hunting, discipline, and issues with the current corporate structures of this country may occur for a bit. I promise I’ll try to keep it useful and, when I can, somewhat amusing — because if you can’t laugh at your personal struggles, the alternative is spending an afternoon in an urgent care facility having medical professionals tell you truths you’ve known for a while and just haven’t admitted to yourself.

Short version…

Less this:

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More this:

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Like vs. Silence on Social Media

•February 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

clubfang:

I feel like this addresses a major gap in the social media experience versus live experiences. Silence during a live performance, or standing in awe of the magnificent, can speak volumes. Silence on social media, from a data-gathering/marketing/promotional/monetizing perspective, means you’re doing something wrong. And yet, it could be that someone took in your post, absorbed it, and for whatever reason carried on with their day without further action. It by no means indicates an unsuccessful post, but it is not ‘measurable’ through data. Unlike an in-person experience, it’s the ‘social’ that truly counts in social media, at least for the analysts…

Originally posted on bottledworder:

I have never seen the Taj Mahal awash with moonlight on a Full Moon day. Or the Great Pyramid in the desert rising in grandeur in the yellow sands in front of me. I have never heard the lion’s roar in the wild. Nor can I remember what it must have been like to have seen the ocean for the first time.

But I can imagine what some of it must feel like.

It must be sublime. It must be spellbounding. It must be a moment so full of wonder that it must be the most difficult to express anything at all at the moment.

Now imagine that the Taj is virtual with a discreet like button next to it. Also imagine that you are a virtual tourist on your way to another site of attraction.

Would you pause a while spellbound in wonder at the beauty of it all…

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Say Your Name

•January 30, 2014 • Leave a Comment

We typically don’t delve into the ‘if you dream it, it can happen’ aspects of writing (or creating) on here. Cynicism runs through our brains more than blood and tea. However, there is something to be said for the occasional (or maybe even programmed) self-assuring moment.

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Repetition makes for habit, and yes, sometimes stagnation. But in the case of say, taking your vitamins every day, or doing the same stretches to keep your muscles from tightening while spending hours a day at the computer, giving yourself a daily, or scheduled, affirmation may not be a bad tactic.

Why the sudden backing off in cynicism? Well, sometimes you need to try something new when the old standbys are no longer serving you. So, for once, we’re going to suggest a tiny bit of daily self-affirmation to try out. Maybe it’ll work for you, maybe it won’t, but it’s a simple enough affirmation, and takes literally three seconds of your time a day, so you’ve really got nothing to lose.

Every morning, or every evening, whenever you prefer, just pick a time at the start or end of your day, say this to yourself: I am a working (insert creative person’s title here).

Maybe the universe will listen on the 80th day and send you a new gig, maybe not. However the point is, if nothing else, you are affirming to yourself every day what you are — which, if you’re not in the ideal scenario for it now, is a good reminder of where you want to be going. The affirmation may work some magic, it may not. However, it’s certainly healthy to remind yourself regularly of who you are and what it is your create — because if you don’t know that, and believe it, who will?

Marketing as a Creative Person Tips (AKA Be a Person First)

•January 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Marketing as a Creative Person Tips (AKA Be a Person First)

While this article is rather lengthy and might get a little too self-aware for some people’s taste, there’s a good message in it overall.

Basically it comes down to something I’ve been told several times and advice I pass on every chance I get (but can’t always seem to accept and utilize the advice for myself) — in order to market yourself as a creative person, something every working creative must do these days, you first have to be a whole person who knows yourself and is passionate about yourself. 

Does it mean you have all the answers? No.

Does it mean you don’t have periods of self doubt? Of course not. 

Does it mean you dedicate time to yourself, every day, to examining what fuels you as a being, and as an artist? YES.

Particularly as a writer, it doesn’t do a lot of good to have all these perceptions and insights about the world and others if you don’t know what makes you tick.

If you can’t pin down what fuels you as a person, what inspires you, what makes you laugh or cry or feel nothing, what drives you to create, then how can you expect to offer the world a clear vision of who you are and what you bring to it?

Write Whatever the F*** You Want…

•January 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

New year, new goals, and two weeks in we’ve already slipped up in the ‘weekly blog posts’ category. Which doesn’t mean we’re giving up; mostly it means life has (as it often does) intervened in ways that temporarily derail what we want to do in favor of what we need to do. 

Which brings us to the point of today’s post. I’ve been answering a lot of questions recently on other blogs and forums that basically boil down to: Is it OK if I do X in my story?
And the advice generally given is: It’s your story. Write whatever the eff you want. (With the subtext of: If you haven’t even written it yet, write whatever works for you now, because if it’s anything you want to develop further you’re going to spend weeks, months, if not years, editing it later. Try it out in the first draft because you can always go back and change it.)

Going further with this idea, when you’re not bound by a contract to write about something specific (i.e. when you’re not a columnist or ghostwriter contractually bound to write about, say, monkeys in the amazon), writing the stories that speak to you rather than pandering to what you think other people will want to read makes you a stronger writer and creative person. It not only strengthens your writing, because you’re dedicated to making your work as good as it can be, it helps you develop your voice both as a writer and an individual. 
Additionally, even when you think there’s no market for your work, every story, every developed character, every sentence, really is an exercise in improving your skill. And hey, you could find your niche, lose it, and then find it again as publishing evolves, like LJ Smith has.

It’s a new year, and whatever your writing (or creative or personal) goals this year, it’s easy to say, “Do it without fear,” and yet much more difficult to follow through. Yet writing, and creating in general, is as much as anything a journey of discovery, discipline, and dedication to your craft and to yourself. Therefore, you owe it to yourself (and your eventual audience) to ensure that the projects you undertake matter to you, regardless of any internal or external forces which may try to deter you. What you want to create is important, because you value it. Nothing says you have to finish it, or even show it to anyone, but if there’s a voice inside you compelling you to create something, at least give it a try. Try it. Go ahead. Give yourself permission. Write whatever the fuck you want.

 
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