Muse-Inks: My day at Graphic-Con and the struggle for balance

Greetings, writerly peoples!

Before I get to the meat of this post, I’ll give you a little update on the writerly happenings of the week.

This past week, there was just one. The Sudbury Writers’ Guild booked a table at Graphic-Con, which was held at the Sudbury Arena, Saturday, June 10th. While it’s not a huge event as comic cons go, it was big for Sudbury.

Fandom was well-represented. There were cosplayers, LARPers, gamers, table top gamers, RPGers, comic fans, art fans, and television and movie fans (Degrassi actors were in attendance). And there were readers.

SWG co-chair, Andy Taylor, committed to be present for the full day as this was our first year booking a table and he wasn’t sure whether it would be worth it or not. Liisa Kovala helped out from opening to noon. I helped out from noon to 6 pm, Clay Campbell walked over after his CKLU radio show and stayed through to 7 pm, Liisa returned to finish off the day and help Andy pack up the table, Kristan Cannon had her own table (right beside the SWG table), and members John Jantunen and Sabine Gorecki stopped by and hung out for a while. It was a team effort 🙂

GraphicCon

Andy took this picture just after Clay (Rincewind) and I arrived and before Liisa left (noonish).

We had on display various books by Guild members, including a few copies of my wee poetry chapbook, NeoVerse. We sold just about one of everything (well, except NeoVerse—I didn’t expect poetry to be a big seller, though there was some interest), sold out of Creepy Capreol, which our other co-chair, Mat del Papa edited, and sold five of the SWG anthology, Sudbury Ink.

Sales weren’t the purpose of our booking the table, however. Reaching out to the writing community in Sudbury was. In that respect, the table was a total success. We had 19 people sign up to find out more about the Guild. We’re going to try to get together in late June for a special meeting for these individuals. If the timing doesn’t work out, we’ll at least send them a copy of our June newsletter to give them an idea of who we are and what we do.

Which leads us to balance

When I got home from Graphic-Con, I was pretty much bushed. Phil had the moms over for BBQ, but afterward, I decided to forgo my usual Saturday post.

Work/home/creative balance is a recurrent issue for me.

As a writer with a day job, I’ve chosen to devote nearly all of my non-work, non-sleep time to writing. Thus, a lot of other things go by the wayside. Physical fitness, family and social events, friends, support of artistic and professional organizations and events. Still. I can’t shut all of that out of my life. So, I try to squeeze it all in. Therein lies the rub.

When I can drag myself out of bed early enough, I do yoga or other exercises in the mornings. When the weather and other commitments permit, I walk home from work. I spend time with Phil and with my mom. I volunteer for the SWG and for the Canadian Authors Association. I try to get out and do something creative and soul-feeding in the community.

I try to get out and garden, or use my summer office. I try to keep the house clean(ish). My standards have fallen significantly in recent years …

I also try to write or revise my novels and short stories daily, keep up with my blog posts, keep up with my commitments to DIY MFA, read, study my craft, improve, attend writing workshops in person or online … and it all takes its toll.

Add to that my persistent issues with depression and anxiety which I must manage carefully, and a myriad of aches and pains that only seem to multiply the older I get, and there are times when I have to step back.

Phil’s supportive. He does the cooking, the groceries, the heavier household chores, and the renovation on his own. He knows my writing time is mine and, except for the odd hug or kiss—we need a fairly steady supply—he leaves me to do my thing. He doesn’t insist on coming along (he hates travelling and would just be miserable) or that I stay home when I have a conference or convention to attend. He listens when I have to blow off some frustration about work or professional obligations. He’s learned, for the most part, not to try to offer solutions. I’m very fortunate.

The heady rush of positive feeling and energy that returns with the sunlight in spring gives way to my first bout of burnout around this time every year. The second battle with burnout usually hits in the fall. This is why I have usually tried to take a self-funded leave from work every 18 months or so, May into June and then October into November.

It’s how I’ve managed my physical and mental health.

It’s been two years now since my last self-funded leave and the continual issues with our pay system at work have meant that I’ve had to defer my plans to take a leave yet again. I won’t be able to manage much longer if I can’t get a leave this fall. I’ve pushed through before, but never longer than two years. I used to work part time when I was in the call centre. That’s probably a better long-term strategy, but this next leave will involve a new pup as well, I don’t have enough leave aside from the self-funded to house train a pup.

I’m hoping that the larger part of our pay issues will be resolved by then and that it will be a possibility. Even if it’s not, I can’t afford not to make the request.

For now, all I can do is take things easy for a few days, give myself a break, and then get back to it.

I’ve been listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability sessions on Audible. Vulnerability is at the core of a satisfying life, of contentment (which is always my goal, not happiness—I’m pretty sure that’s a mythical beast), and of achieving healthy goals. And self-love is at the heart (lol) of vulnerability.

Unfortunately, I’m kind of addicted to shame and I tend to wall myself off from other people so I don’t have to be vulnerable with them, one on one. Everyone else thinks I’m doing great. I’m that high-functioning person living with mental illness. I can simulate vulnerability on this blog because it doesn’t cost me as much as opening up in person can. All the self-hate takes place in private. I operate from a scarcity mindset. There’s never enough time, energy, you name it, and I am certainly never enough.

I know that none of this is true, intellectually. I know time can be managed, found. A healthy lifestyle can provide me with more energy. I can tell my friends and family that they are enough often, but I can rarely turn that compassionate lens on myself.

So I’m going to goof off for a few days, except for the absolutely necessary stuff, like blogging and housework, professional obligations, and, well, the day job. I’m going to try to be present enough to listen and be kind to myself and to others. I’m going to try to enjoy myself.

We’ll see how it goes and I’ll check in with you next weekend after the poetry walk. The post may go up on Sunday again, but that’s just my way of shifting things to give me enough intellectual and emotional space to recover.

In the meantime, be well, be kind, and stay strong.

And I’ll “see” you on Tipsday!

Muse-inks

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, March 5-11, 2017

Time to get that mental corn popping!

Some lovely pieces for #InternationalWomensDay

Today I rise. Films for Action

Jina Moore shares 16 stories that will expand your mind on IWD. Buzzfeed

Australian school boys share the stories of their female friends: why feminism is important to me.

 

Courtney Shea: why sports psychologist Dr. Peter Jensen works like he’s a smoker. The Globe and Mail

A Danish psychologist says “positive thinking” has turned happiness into a duty and a burden. Olivia Goldhill for Quartz.

Jen Schwartz says the secret to happiness is to simplify. Outside

The Usual Routine: why empaths act strange around inauthentic people.

Artists have structurally different brains. Melissa Hogenboom for the BBC.

Susan Storm profiles the INTJ personality. Psychology Junkie

Olivia Goldhill: Blaise Pascal understood that people are best convinced by their own data. Quartz

Rutger Bregman makes the case for universal basic income. The Guardian

The Medievalist think these ten Medieval women are worth knowing about.

Explore Canada’s great women on Canada’s History.

Paul Dalby writes about Maria Lindsay Cobham, Canada’s pirate queen. Canada’s History

Nanaboozhoo and the Wiindigo: An Ojibwe History from Colonization to the Present. Bezhigobinesikwe Elaine Fleming for Tribal College: Journal of American Indian Higher Education.

A rabbit hole in a farmer’s field leads to “mystery caves.BBC

Farah Halime profiles the millennial who might be the new Einstein. Ozy

Katherine Hobson: what going to Mars will do to our minds. Five Thirty Eight

Mark Malloy reports on scientists who have discovered how to upload knowledge into your mind. The Telegraph

Ryan F. Mandelbaum reports on the observation of time crystals. Gizmodo

Dana Dovey: scientists identify the first sign of Alzheimer’s Disease. MSN

Patton Oswalt explains why pop culture gets grieving wrong. Ari Shapiro for NPR.

The second sight among Scots Irish. McCain’s Corner

George Dvorsky shares the first footage of one of the most reclusive whales in the world. Gizmodo

It’s been a long day, and you’ve earned this video of Sir Patrick Stewart greeting his new foster dog. William Hughes for the A.V. Club.

Hope you got your fill of thoughty.

Until next I blog, be well.

thoughtythursday2016

The next chapter: April 2015 update

Where I’ve been

I don’t know how to say this, but April kind of sucked.

Due to the situation at work, I decided to give myself a true break for the Easter long weekend. So, no writing there.

The next weekend was Ad Astra and I knew better than to even promise a blog post. No writing that weekend either.

After having left things for so long, it took a while to get restarted.

I didn’t get either of the two stories written that I had wanted to, and only revised one story, but incompletely.

You won’t be surprised by my progress, or lack thereof.

April 2015 progress

11,907 revised words on Initiate of Stone. I’m about 70% finished.

5,541 words written on the blog.

2,931 words written on Marushka. This is so far below what I’d hoped for in progress that it makes me weep a little. According to my original goal, I’m just over 50% of the way to finishing the draft. I’m closer than that, but I don’t know how much more.

38 words is all I managed on my short story.

20,417 was my total for the month.

April 2015 summary

I submitted my story “The Broken Places” for consideration to the Aurora Awards and several people were kind enough to nominate me.

I’ve also sent it to Sandra Kasturi for consideration in the next Imaginarium anthology.

Will be sure to let you know what happens.

Where I’m heading

Friday was my last day as a consultant. It’s truly a relief to be back at my old position with the training team. I’ve realized that I appreciate my position so much more now because I actually get to see the results of my work.

Even if I’m frustrated because my learners tend to hear what they want rather than what I’m actually teaching them, I maintain relationships with many of them and can see how they’re doing.

I’m burnt. I’ve actually been so tired I’ve felt sick, but when I’ve tried to nap, I don’t actually sleep. I close my eyes and my mind won’t settle down. It happens at night, too. I just need a break.

I have only two weeks at work and then I’m off for five.

Since I need the rest, I’m not going to be slaving away over my break, but I do intend to get some work done and finish a few small projects around the house.

I aim to have my revisions on IoS and my drafting of Marushka all, or mostly, done by the time I start my leave.

Then, I’m writing my query and synopsis, researching agents, and I’m going to send IoS into the world to see how she does.

I’m trying to arrange a bit of a promotional visit for a new author friend, Madeleine Callway, some time in June as well.

Because of that, I’m not aiming high for the next couple of months, though I do intend to pick up with drafting Gerod and the Lions once I’m finished Marushka, and trying to pull together Apprentice of Wind, the second book in the Ascension series.

Since I’ve been working toward the goal of querying, I’ve taken a load of courses, including Jane Friedman’s MBA for Writers and I’ve picked up Jeff Goins’s The Art of Work.

I’ve had Julie Czerneda and another author friend review my opening (‘cause openings still kick my arse).

I’ve ordered the 2015 Guide to Literary Agents and signed up for Publisher’s Weekly, ShelfAwareness, and Publisher’s Lunch free newsletters.

I’m getting serious about this writing gig in a whole different way.

Of course, I’ll let you know how all of this pans out.

One more post today and then I think I’m done.

See you in a few!

The Next Chapter