Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Weekly Update: 9-1-15 Big Events and Bad Advice

This has been a summer of big events.

Last Saturday, my cousin Mitchell and his wife Krystal held a baby shower for their first child, Leilani, who's due in early October. As both these lovely people are very gregarious, the guest list ballooned to 80 people and they had to use their church for the space. I ended up baking 4 batches of scones and mc-ing the event.

It was a lovely event.

The next day, I went with my critique partners, Rita and Carmen, to Griffith Park in order to see this summer's final performance of Much Ado About Nothing. (I'd seen it before, but I didn't mind seeing it again.) Normally, we meet for 6 hours on Sunday anyway, but this time I was out of the house for 12 hours.

And this is how it's been every summer: my weekends booked with writing events, family events, and outdoor plays. It's enough to overwhelm my poor introverted heart. I'm looking forward to getting an empty weekend to clean, lay on the couch, and, you know, write.

An ideal Saturday

But not just yet. I have a few things coming up.

Today, for example, I'm off to a "Family-to-Family" seminar to learn about mental illness. My sister has had mental illness for a while now (she's doing well and even works as an artist), and this is a way for me and my parents to understand her.

Saturday is the formal meeting of the Brea Library Writer's Group, and I'm going to be giving a talk on "Winning Nanowrimo" and attempting to recruit members to commit to Nanowrimo and form a group in order to tackle it together. For those who can't come to the meeting, but are curious about the talk, I'll be publishing the contents of it on this blog every weekend, for the rest of September.

Sunday I might go and see Romeo and Juliet at Griffith Park (yes, again; they put on good shows, dammit) with my parents. My sister's also coming down for the weekend, but I'm not sure if I'll get to see her or not. That part's still up in the air.

So another busy week, as the big events of summer keep right on rolling in.

* * *

School has officially started, which means the days of sleeping in until 6:00, 7:00, or even 8:00 AM are over. My alarm clock blared at me at 5:00 AM, and up I rose, more zombie than human. But September is a horrific month for finding substitute jobs. The teachers are well-rested and determined to show up and train the students to follow their class rules. If a freak illness does occur, all the substitutes snatch at the job like a pile of mangy dogs after a lone bone.

I don't wanna get up!
It's tempting to sleep in, but I need to mentally prepare for the arrival of jobs and get back on the God-awful early bird schedule. Between getting dressed, taking care of the dogs, and relentlessly tapping the refresh button on the substitute website to see if any new jobs come up (though I know they won't), I checked my inbox and saw that a new issue of Flash Fiction Online had come out. The highlighted nonfiction advice piece was eye-catchingly titled:

"Fxxk Writing! Advice on Writing Advice and other Redundancies."

So I clicked on it and read.

The article begins by saying how most writing advice is basically useless for vetran writers due to diminishing returns; after all, there's only so many times you can hear "butt in chair" before your eyes glaze over. Then it takes an interesting turn when the author of the piece, Jason Ridler, starts railing against advice and the culture of goal-setting in general. When one is determined to meet goals no matter what, integrity is pushed aside. And when one puts one's whole identity on being a writer and fails, that person has nothing left to hold onto.

The dark side of writing
Jason Ridler had gone through a moment when everything came crashing down on him and he had to give up writing and build himself anew. He writes more about it in a piece called "Catastrophe and Transformation."

While I've never had such a hard year as him, nor seriously entertained the idea of quitting writing altogether, I understand going through moments of crisis, moments when you realize there's more to life than writing and that sometimes you need to let go of all the grand dreams you've built up for yourself.

Right now, I've published a novel, and I'm happy, and I'll keep writing and I'll keep publishing, because my stories are my children, and I need to love them and nuture them and send them out in the world, whether or not they give me glory, fame, or wealth. At the same time, I don't think I can make it as a full-time writer. I've looked at the finances and it just isn't feasible at this time. So I need to go back to school, get my credential, and get a "real" job.

To my high school self, that would probably be failure. But I've tried writing full-time and it's not as fun as it sounds. When you put so much pressure on your art to make you money, before it's ready, before you're ready, you become stressed and nervous. Better to be true to your art and find money elsewhere. And if the fame and money comes, great. But you don't need it.

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