Hello 2017

Another year, another New Year’s post. I made a number of goals (not resolutions) last year. Let us see how those worked out:

  • Gotten all 12 years of my notes organized – done
  • Hired a literary agent – looooool, still working on this one.
  •  Leveled out on my meds – mostly
  • Changed jobs, whether that be via “demotion,” change of departments, or taking leave to finish my degree. – done
  •  Dated at least one person – we’re going to call this done, even though no official dates were had. It’s complicated.
  • Learned how to control my awful spending habits so that I have enough to hire a maid. – still working toward this
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos – nope

Not too shabby. This means it’s time to set up seven new goals for 2017. Let’s start with the ones I didn’t complete in 2016 and fill in the rest.

By the end of 2017, I will have:

  • Signed with a fabulous literary agent of awesome
  • Learned how to control my spending habits, which includes paying off at least 2 of my school loans and paying off my remaining credit balance. (I’m bound and determined to be debt free by the age of 30. I want to buy a house, dammit.)
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos
  • Completed two of my seven remaining college classes
  • Gotten my passport and Canadian visa
  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Gotten involved in a serious relationship with someone who complements my brand of crazy

I think that sums up my plans for 2017 pretty well. It’s going to be a busy year. A good friend and I have resolved to be more involved in each other’s lives, so I’m excited for that. I’m still struggling a little with my mood and medication, but it’s so much better than it used to be (anxiety is currently high but manageable).

We’re gearing up for an interesting year, that’s for certain. Have you made any goals/resolutions for 2017? Not screaming in frustration at Trump’s Twitter feed, for instance? Let me know in the comments, and happy New Year.

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Hair

We’re going to pretend I got this post up earlier in the day. I definitely did not spend the last (*cough*27*cough*) hours sleeping. Look, I wasn’t feeling so hot and I was tired. Apparently like Rip van Winkle tired. And I’m still tired, so apologies for anything that doesn’t make sense.

So hair.

One of the bizarre things about writing a blog like mine is trying to find ways to tie together writing and mental health. If it sounds easy to you, then good on you; it’s not easy for me. However, hair ties into both rather nicely.

Me!

March 2014

Back in March of 2014, I cut my hair all the way off. Like, all the way. The next shortest I could have gone was a buzz cut, and I was tempted. The whole purpose of cutting it off was to get rid of everything–the dead ends, the hair color, the bad memories, and the temptation to keep cutting it shorter inch by inch.

Hair is a sign of power to me. Maybe it’s because my mom has always kept her hair long. Maybe the story of Samson really struck a chord with my childhood imagination.  Either way, hair and power are two things I cannot separate from one another. I think that’s part of the reason I kept cutting my hair when I felt stressed out. I felt powerless.

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March 2015

I made a commitment to myself that I would never cut my hair again . . . until I got married. That vow lasted longer than anticipated since my engagement broke off about six months later.

The picture to the left shows a few things:

  • My hair grew a full six inches in the first year [insert “Why the long face” jokes here];
  • I felt dead inside through most of 2015
  • This is roughly the length my male characters wear their hair at minimum.

Characterization-wise, I personally prefer to identify my characters’ perceived power with the length of their hair. In my first book, Devin’s hair is in a pixie cut (think the length of my first picture, but styled like someone actually wanted her to look cute). She’s timid, young, and naïve. By the last book, her hair is waist-length and she is among the most powerful women in the province. Similarly, one of my characters starts the series with waist-length black hair and by God she is possibly the most terrifying female in the books thus far.

The same thing goes for my men, but with the added complexity of how they wear their hair, i.e. a ponytail = restrained power. My leading man, Patrick, always wears his hair tied back because he thinks he is completely powerless in the real world. He has to hide the power and influence he has over people and it’s one of the biggest stressors in his life.

As for me, I’ve managed to keep the scissors away from my hair for nearly three years. I’m pulling a Samson: my hair has not seen so much as a trim since March 2014, and it really does feel empowering to know that I have been able to grow my hair out so long. I took a ruler to it the other day — it’s 18 inches long now. The weird thing is that I wear my hair back often because I don’t want people to see how long it’s gotten, like they don’t deserve that part of me. Bizarre, right?

What about you guys? Does hair make you feel powerful/powerless? If you don’t have or can’t grow hair, I definitely want to know your thoughts on the whole hair/power dynamic.

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November 2016

Sigh.

Another day, another rejection. That’s the end of this round of queries. Looks like I’m going to be doing another revision.

I love writing. It’s what drives me, but sometimes it’s easy to get beaten down. This journey has been terrifying, nauseating, exhilarating, and a million other “ings” of both the good and bad variety. I’ve learned a lot, the most recent lesson being that I read faster than a lot of people. I can read my book (300 pages) twice in a night. I thought that was totally normal, which was why I started getting frustrated with my beta readers when it took them 3-4 weeks. WEEKS. My patience is starting to wear down, but I think it’s just anxiety. I want this.

My mother just sat me down to watch a clip from Castle about why he has his first rejection letter framed. He mentions getting 21 rejections before getting picked up, to which I say, “You lucky bastard,” but the message is good. I’ll leave it here for any of you who are feeling the way I am, no matter what your end goal happens to be.

Jealousy v. Success

This question has been posed twice in the last week: What will I do if one of my friends gets published before I do?

The honest-to-God truth is that I’ll be fine. I’ll even be happy for them.

This sounds like I’m giving the “right” answer rather than the “honest” answer. My mother and I had a pretty lengthy discussion where she didn’t believe me at first, but I convinced her in the end.

Here’s the deal: I am friends with amazing, talented people who are all working towards the same goal. We all want to be authors. We all have a need to share our philosophies with the world. We’re all weird, and we’ve all taken turns being “the next one” who might get published.

I’ve worked for this for 12 years, rewriting the same story over and over and over. One of my friends has been piddling around with a couple of ideas for about 10 years and finally settled on one focus a couple of years back, but hasn’t put a single word on paper yet. What if he gets published two years from now and I have to wait another five? That’s okay.

Patience is a magical virtue that some people really can’t grasp. One colleague ripped into me about not chasing my dreams–“You’re not going to get published if you don’t start working toward it.” I waited for her to let it all out (took approximately 10 minutes; that was a test of patience right there) before I told her that I had in fact finished the novel twice and rewritten it because of feedback gained from others. I had moved 1500 miles to study my other settings. I had gotten specific jobs and studied specific disciplines just to improve my writing. She didn’t realize how thoroughly my 12 years had been dedicated to this craft because she can’t grasp the concept of patience.

That patience is why I’ll be okay. I might get upset for a minute, an hour, a day, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Someone else’s success doesn’t detract from mine. Hell, if one of one my friends moves forward faster than I do, he can start dropping my name.

I believe in a world built on “my success is your success and your success is my success.” I don’t adhere to an “I deserve this more than that other person” mentality–anymore. I did for a long time and it got me nowhere. It got me further from Nowhere; I actually went backwards. It took me about six years to pull my head out of my ass and see how immature I was being.

If you put in the work, you deserve success. It’s not up to me to decide who gets there first.

Damn.

Ever have one of those mornings where you’re working on a project and you realize that the perfect consultant for said project is someone you swore to never speak to again? Because I have.

Today’s shenanigans include researching childhood illnesses that may lead to relatively severe vision loss (remember: we authors love doing terrible things to our characters), but I need the vision loss to be something that can be mitigated by contact lenses. Said research means reading a bunch of optometric and ophthalmologic jargon. (Would you believe I knew how to spell ‘ophthalmologic’ without looking it up? No? Good, because I definitely missed the first ‘l’, but I did get the rest of the bleeping consonants.)

I can piece my way through the jargon, but it takes a lot of brain power. Wikipedia and I are close friends, plus there’s a file buried deep in the back of my mind titled, “Things I Learned While Listening To My Ex Talk About Work.” As I started going over these articles, I’m going, “It would be so much easier to just ask the optometrist I nearly married,” and then I remembered: oh right, that’s not going to happen.

Oy. The PsyD says moments like these are to be expected for awhile longer. It’s funny how he just pops into my mind at random and completely disturbs all of my thoughts. At least I know how to write that into a character now.

As for the poor character recovering from her childhood illness, I’m thinking measles, but I have to research the long-term effects first. I don’t want to change her character dynamic too much. It’s one thing to add a daily regimen of medication; it’s quite another to write in ramifications of encephalitis.

I swear I’ve learned more researching for my novels than I ever did in Biology class. Anywho. That’s the random brainwaves of today.