Bright Beet

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On Monday, I started a full-time job with outstanding benefits; I sold two paintings at Delicious! the Valley Arts Council‘s exhibit on Thursday, the pumpkin below and the beet above; and I have an article to work on for a magazine I admire. My spouse has begun writing about TV again, and has some solid job leads in his field. I have red low tops to wear while walking outside, but left my heels to stay in the office.

In job searching, nothing works until it does. Advice is usually much more condescending than helpful, I’ve found, even as I offer advice to others searching. We are smug, the employed. We are so much closer to those who aren’t, or aren’t to their desired amount, than we realize. Please let me remember this when I forget it.

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3 Personal Writing Triumphs

Yes, that's the Chosen Collection in the background!

Loki enjoying a bully stick in his gigantic new bed.

1) I’ve written a guest blogpost for Hatch*, a new blog about religion, big questions, and the like. My post is personal and ranty; it’s very Millennial of me.

2) Reddit, known for harsh judgments and countless photos of adorable cats, has my first book’s first chapter in its capable, collective hands. Someone posted one critique already; I’m so grateful for the compliment sandwich, and the critical stuff in-between was more helpful than harsh. Bring it on! [Insert metallurgy metaphor here.]

3) Last week, I began a 500 words per week goal for my new adventures in fiction writing–and I exceeded it by a whopping 99 words! It’s such a minor mission, but if I can stick to it, I will have proven to myself that I can increase the difficulty level from Super Easy to Very Easy. Any easy is hard until I make a habit of it.

Anxiety is the Root of Laziness

Too often, when I think of doing something creative, my stomach tenses and my heart races. Without this physical sensation, as I learned from the Radiolab guys, I might not feel this too-familiar fear at all. (Thanks, body, for both permitting and discouraging my artistic attempts.)

Hearts race, stomachs tense, and anxiety sucks. However, knowing that this is the root of my laziness can help alleviate a few cycles of anxiety that start when I acknowledge my laziness. (Yes, Francis Bacon [or Thomas Hobbes?], knowledge is power, but it’s power that can be used by many parts of the mind and for many purposes, and not all of them are fruitful pursuits.) If I’m in an anxiety loop (anxiety–>laziness–>more anxiety) I might say:

“I don’t want to make something enough.”
“I must not be meant to do this.”
“Truly creative people are completely driven to make things; it pours out of them. If I have to fight lethargy to write something, isn’t that a sign I shouldn’t write at all?”

That last thought especially is riddled with false revelations. Just because so many writers and artists might describe a flow they enter when making something (“The words poured out of me,” “It’s as if someone else were painting it,” “I felt like a conduit”), doesn’t mean a feeling of anxiety isn’t present for them at other times. While I have also felt that flow a few times myself, maybe more importantly, why should flow and a sense of ease have a monopoly on creativity?

If flow isn’t there, but fear is, grant me the Opus Contra Naturam (Work Against Nature) of the Renaissance alchemists, and I will find another nature to work for.

Half a Day in the Life

Inspired by reading the daily routines of famous writers and that one by Ben Franklin (which he just could not have kept consistently, right?), I thought I’d investigate my own routines. This is really the morning from a few days ago, but let’s pretend it was yesterday’s:

5:00am: Loki puts forth a persuasive argument in favor of waking up. Refusing to accept its validity, Ken and I defensively point out surface flaws and straw men.

6:45am: He tries to convince us again. (Shoot! I should have gotten up 15 minutes ago!) I get up to take care of his urological and gastrological needs. While he’s eating breakfast (he knocks it out of a toy), I brush my teeth and put some jojoba oil on my face. (Both Ken and I are cursed with dry skin–me from my acne medicine, Ken from his genetic propensity toward psoriasis–aggravated in the winter. Our future children may be smart but skin-problem prone.)

I start my coffee: boil water, grind beans, pour beans, pour water, wait four minutes, and press both together.

7:25am: We all pile into the living room to our respective posts: Ken to the couch to continue sleeping (he works at night); Loki to the window, to watch the world for us; and me, to my laptop. Loki quickly follows Ken back into slumberland.

7:30am: Since I have already started writing this, I bum around the internet a little more quickly, and begin editing an ebook, editing a website, and looking for more gigs. I find one possible job that involves handwriting telemarketing materials. I add that to a list of day-dreamable jobs (ones that give me pause but don’t compel me to apply), like Sports Writer or Maple Sugaring Assistant.

10am: We take Loki to the park and play hide and seek among the trees.

10:45am: We return home, and write to-do lists for the rest of the day. I start making a quick cobb salad for lunch.

12:00pm: Ken and I eat cobb salad, with a valuable lesson learned by noon: there are no quick cobb salads.

On New Year’s Resolutions

Neil Gaiman.

I love the above graphic-ized quote from Neil Gaiman (confirmed his from his Twitter account). The “live as only you can” especially strikes a chord–the part of me that agrees art can be a life. The wish (blessing?) acknowledges that joy, creativity, and surprise–something different–are really what most of us are looking for in the new year. While I might vow to replace all refined sugar at home with agave nectar in 2013, what I really want is transformation. To be and do something different and unexpected. Simultaneously, to change for the better and be more myself.

But I find the resolve isn’t often present when it needs to be. It’s in the daydreamy planning times, the kinds that I’m always indulging in, be it December 31st or May 31st. To change, really, I need to change my behavior in the moment when it counts, and do what I really want to be doing when I don’t feel like doing it. (I remember hearing once that that’s what it means to grow up: to do what’s important even if you don’t want to or feel like it.)

Then Randall Munroe of xckd fame produces this gem:

resolution

For me, ultimately, there’s no sense in New Year’s Resolutions. When I’m ready to change, I will.

Full Moon

Almost saturny, don't you think?

The moon from my window.

There was a bright spot on the wall. What light is on? I fumbled around the dark bedroom looking for a flashlight or an extra glowy alarm clock with 6s, 8s, or 9s on its face. None to be found. Coming to my senses, I walked to the wall and traced the light to its origin. The window. It was the moon.

The moon’s full tonight, which I like very much in the winter. In this suburbia it takes on the role of a streetlight, offering a better spectrum than the usual dim orangey guys.

Good day today. Productive very early, the kitchen sink is clean, and I finished reading a book. Also added iPhone cases and stationery for a few paintings on my Society6 account. Ken’s adventuring in New Hampshire, while Loki and I are quietly holding the fort relaxing in the living room.

I plan on breaking my too-early-to-bed cycle tonight. I’ve caffeinated myself for a wakeful evening of editing. Let’s see how this goes!