End of May report

I have no idea how it’s June already, but my calendar says it is. I think it’s a lying cuss, but I can’t prove it.

May was marginally better than April. Not that April was hard to beat. The goal now is for April to be the worst month all year. Numbers for the month: 8,296 words, and nearly 13 hours. I did manage a 12 day streak at the end of the month. The second half was far better than the first. Now it’s a matter of maintaining, although I’m starting to wonder whether I should allow myself a day off once in a while and not concern myself with the streak so much. Maybe focus on days/month instead of days in a row? That might be a more workable solution.

I made some progress on Balphrahn, and I read some books. I’ve also been working the new day job, and that’s been zapping my creativity a fair bit, but like I said, it’s better than it was. At least I’m down to one job now, and that’s freed up some time. That’s good, because I put my garden in. Between the garden and pots, I have 20 tomato plants and 10 green peppers. I did potatoes and sweet potatoes in pots, but I think I drowned the potatoes. They don’t seem to be doing much.

One sort of odd thing I’ve noticed is I’m watching less TV. It just doesn’t keep me occupied like it used to. I still have favorites I like to watch, but between DVR and the Netflix/Amazon/Hulu trifecta, I can watch when I feel like it. That’s helped productivity in other areas.

Oh, and I figured out why my dryer wasn’t drying. The outside vent had significant lint build-up, and there wasn’t anyplace for the moisture to go. I cleared it out and it works like a champ now.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Plugging along. Sometimes that’s all you can do.

 

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The Warrior Reawakens

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about telling the universe game on when it threw a monkey wrench into my carefully laid plans. Things have changed quite a bit since then. In fact, it’s a little mind boggling.

I fell off the wagon for a few days. April hasn’t been a great writing month so far. Transitioning from one day job to the other has taken a fair amount of time, and my word count totals dwindled little by little until I broke my streak when my kids were here Easter weekend. It was 65 days, if you’re keeping score at home.

It’s not that I’m broken up about it. Family is the best reason to take a day off, but I didn’t go back immediately. I let old habits kick in and let circumstances get in my way. Luckily, I recognized it much faster this time.

There is a possibility that life isn’t going to get easier this year. It might get harder. I realize there might be circumstances under which I won’t be able to write for a season, but the warrior is awake. The story wants to be birthed. I’m focused like I haven’t been before.

Game on. Again.

Moving right along

It’s been a little stressful the last couple of weeks. I’m changing day jobs, which is exciting, but it hasn’t been without challenges. There is training to do at the old job, although the crew is finally stable again. The new job is still developing and needs flexibility more than anything at this point. Since my personal motto is Sempre Gumby, I’m fine with that. With a little luck, in a couple weeks this will all be a thing of the past, and it’s fun to build it from the ground up. Plus it’s admin, close to home, comes with paid vacation, and I get to work with grown-ups!

The biggest downside of all of this is the impact it’s had on my writing. I’m very behind for the month and there isn’t a chance of catching up this week. Next week might be better. I suspect it’s going to be baby steps as I walk away from the old job and into the new.

I’d like to think this will be a blip, that I’ll be able to catch up and power through the first draft of the first book. Right now, it’s little drips here and there, like Chinese Water Torture. I’ve kept up the writing every day streak. Most days it’s only a couple hundred words. It’s hard to focus and figure out what comes next when I have all the other details begging for attention. Don’t even get me started on the size of my laundry pile. I’m going to have to pay attention to that just so I have something to wear to work next week.

Stay tuned for updates!

Just When You Thought You’d Seen It All

He came in toward the end of my shift, mid-week. He was pretty non-descript, blond with scruffy facial hair, 40-ish. He went right for the cups, so I figured he’d been in before. First timers usually look around and stare at the monitors behind the registers like they’re menu boards.

A few minutes later he came to the topping bar with a cup of Italian ice. I wasn’t paying too much attention, but from the corner of my eye I saw his hand come out of the bin with the gummy butterflies. His hand. A grown man, close to my age, ignored the tongs and reached in with his hand.

Pro tip #1: If you touch it, I have to throw the rest away. I can forgive that with little kids sometimes if the parents are trying to keep them under control and the kid gets impatient. It stops being cute when it’s done by someone older than 4.

My shock must have shown on my face because he looked at me and said, “There were hardly any left.”

I laughed. I knew he was right, and they were heading toward stale anyway. I picked up the bin, offered him more, and put it behind the counter when he said he had enough.

I weighed it. Fourteen ounces. It was nine bucks and change.

He looked at me like he hadn’t heard right. “Almost $10?”

“Yes, sir, you have fourteen ounces at fifty-nine cents an ounce.”

He pulled out a ten and handed it to me, sputtering the whole time about how expensive it was. He called it obscene.

Usually, I say something non-comital when that happens, but this guy touched gummies with his hands. I was already irritated. “That’s pretty standard in this industry. I even saw that price in Las Vegas.”

He scoffed. “Well, yeah, but you’re just talking about frozen yogurt, right?”

“Well, yes, because why am I going to compare fro yo to anything else?” Apples? Oranges?

“You could compare it to something, I don’t know, a tenth the price.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed and shook my head. Like a reasonable person would compare frozen yogurt to a frosty? (Yes, we get that a lot, actually.)

Pro tip #2: $0.59 an ounce is about what you should expect to pay at a fro yo shop. Italian ice is heavier than frozen yogurt. Toppings add even more weight. If you’re on a budget, don’t fill your cup, and ask if you can do a test weigh if you’re not sure. We do that all the time.

He was still muttering when he left. I don’t think he’ll be back. If I’d thought about it, I’d have implied I was going to charge him for the gummies I had to throw away. Lucky for both of us, he left before I did.

Balance

My day job hours are increasing a lot in the next two weeks. I have a coworker on vacation, and another who changed shifts suddenly, so the morning shifts were decimated. I’m training a new person this week, so it’s temporary, but it will eat a lot of my time short term.

As we walked into church on Sunday, I told Eric it seems like the two jobs never go well at the same time. If I have a lot of time to write, I freeze up and stare at the screen. When I’m on a roll, the day job explodes and eats my time.

As usual, that was me preaching to myself: It’s about balance. It’s about art and pay. If the art doesn’t pay, something else has to until it does. In the meantime, all you can to is the best you can do.

I wrote a few thousand extra words last week. It’s possible, although not probable, I could break 30k for the month. I’d be happy with 25k, which is entirely probable. The goal is to write every day. I’m not worried about word count right now. I have a streak going–I’ve worked every day since Feb. 7. I just need to keep the streak going, and the book will get done. The stubborn is still going strong.

Progress

So far, so good.

Last week I beat my word count goal by 369 words despite not making the minimum goal any day except Saturday. When I woke up Saturday morning, I was certain I wouldn’t make it, but I hit the right combination of coffee and music, and pushed it through the goal.

This week is shaping up to be similar, although I’m getting my butt kicking days in earlier. In a perfect world, I’ll get this week’s words in early and get about half of next week done, too. My day job hours spike next week, but part of them will be spent training the opener I just hired. The downside of that is I will likely not have time to write at work, hence my plan to start early. I’ll have the words done at the end of the month even if, on paper, I don’t make the goal next week.

As of this writing, the WIP is over 22,000 words. I’m to the point where I thought I would cut and paste from a short story, but it’s in the POV of the wrong character, so it will take heavy editing. Still, that should go faster than creating from whole cloth.

So it looks like I really do want this. Just don’t tell the universe. I don’t know if I can take any more surprises.

Game On

It’s been an interesting few days. Interesting in the Chinese curse sense.

I came home from Deep Thinkers with a writing and marketing plan for the first three Balphrahn books. I sat down and looked at what I have written and decided it was feasible to have the series done this year, and that I needed to aim for 780 words a day. Every day. That’s 780 book words and doesn’t include blogs. I did build in a month of time off for illness and/or travel.

It’s doable, if everyone cooperates.

They haven’t.

Last week, one of my openers sent out a group text that she needed to take care of her grandmother in the mornings and couldn’t open any more starting the next day. She had four open shifts a week. Of my other openers, one has another job, one can only work weekends, and one is in school. That leaves me.

My boss set up some interviews for Saturday so we could get some help on day shift. As I was getting ready for bed Friday night, I told Eric even though I had to work on Saturday, at least I didn’t have to be in uniform.

Saturday morning, I got up, poured my first cup of coffee, and turned on my iPad. I had a text message from my weekend opener that she couldn’t go to work and no one else could cover, so would I mind?

Yes. Yes, I did mind. She pulls double shifts on the weekends, and I had evening plans. In the end, I put on my uniform, my boss came in early to help me, and I got someone else to cover the night shift. (I still missed my evening plans.)

By the time I got to work, I felt very put out. I told my boss I felt like the universe looked over my shoulder at my lofty plans and said, “OK, kid, let’s see how bad you want this.” And if that’s how it wants to play, game on.

As soon as I said it, my whole attitude changed. I shifted from victim to warrior.

Long story short, the other girls have stepped up and I only have to cover 2 of the extra shifts. If it works out, I’ll go back to only doing paperwork on Monday, and have two mid-week shifts. It’s not as bad as it could be, or as bad as it has been.

The series is going to get done. I’m going to move hell and high water to finish it this year. I might have to make adjustments, but even if I miss the mark, I’ll still have more done this year than I did last year.

How bad do I want it? Game on.