The Day Job Blues – An IWSG Post

IWSG badgeEvery month I see multiple posts popping up on my WordPress feed all on the same day, all with “IWSG” in the title or the first few lines of the post. Eventually curiosity got the best of me and I looked into the story behind these synchronized bloggers, which is how I discovered the Insecure Writers Support Group. The idea behind the group is, of course, to give and get support within a community of writers, most of whom are insecure about one thing or another (don’t laugh…it’s a writer’s lot in life to be continually insecure). On the first Wednesday of every month the IWSG hosts a blog hop; members can write about the insecurities they’ve been feeling, problems they’ve overcome, or whatever else they feel like talking about.

This is my first IWSG post, and today I thought I’d talk about the Day Job Blues.

Most writers are lucky enough to be able to make a decent living from our writing, especially those of us who chose to write novels. Making any money as a novelist is quite tough because of the over-saturated market and difficulties getting noticed, and even if you’re lucky enough to be traditionally published you might never make anything more than your advance if people just aren’t interested in your book. Thus, many of us have day jobs – the things we grudgingly do to pay the bills.

Now, I’m lucky enough to have a day job that is a great boon for my family. Because of the work I do my husband and I don’t have to worry about the bills, are well prepared in case of breakdowns or other emergencies, and we can afford to splurge a bit on ourselves with the mood strikes us. And while the schedule is sometimes grueling (12-hour days for 14 days straight), it does have it’s benefits (14 straight days off afterward). Truth told, it’s a pretty decent set-up – at least, it’s what works for right now. However, from a writer’s point of view it can be extremely stifling.

When I’m on shift I’m extremely lucky if I manage to scribble a few words in a pocket notebook throughout the day. Because of the long hours I have maybe a half hour to an hour per night to write, but usually that time is spent whipping up last-minute blog posts while trying to keep my eyes open. Many times I go an entire two-week period writing only a thousand words or less toward a novel because I just can’t find the time without sacrificing precious sleep.

And going home actually doesn’t help. Two of my fourteen days off are spent on airplanes, and if those planes don’t have outlets (hint: they usually don’t) I can only write as long as my laptop battery survives, or else take the much slower route of scribbling in a notebook (hint #2: my longhand is a snail’s pace compared to my typing speed). Of the twelve days I actually do get at home, I spend a lot of my time (understandably) hanging out with the husband and daughter that I’ve just been away from for two weeks. There’s usually a trip or two to go shopping or visit family while I have the chance, and more often than not there’s some kind of event like a birthday, wedding, or family get-together to attend while I’m home. There are the usual chores that never go away, and my experience has been that at least one appliance will break every time I’m on my days off. In other words, my twelve days off are not the lazy, tons-of-free-time days you would imagine them to be. Between doing the stuff that I have to do (chores, fixing stuff, engagements) and doing the things that I want to do while I have the opportunity (quality time with my daughter, catching up on our shows with my husband, actually getting a relaxing bath once in a while), I often only manage a couple thousand fiction words for every shift at home.

Now, the thing is, I did manage to write, edit, and publish a novel (and maintain a 5-days-a-week blog) under these conditions, because there is absolutely something to be said for sheer determination. But it’s not an easy path. Forcing myself to crank out extra words usually means giving up on sleep that I desperately need, and letting myself relax a bit means I often forget where I was going with a scene, or even lose interest in my WIP all together. Taking the middle road (or as close to middle as I can get) means that completing a project can easily take ten times longer than one would traditionally like.

The long and short of it is that writing – even though many people don’t look at it this way – is a job, which we work willingly and pluck away at whenever we’re able because it’s our passion. Meanwhile, the day jobs we do to survive steal all our time and energy, and while they support us financially, they leave us bereft of that passion, unable to scrap together the resources required to do the thing we actually love.

I’m writing about these Day Job Blues today because it’s about this time every month (midway through my work shift) when I start to lament my situation. As I crawl into bed each night, exhausted from long hours, eyes burning and body sore, I’ll dream about how wonderful it would be to not need a day job, to be able to spend my days cozy at home, sipping tea and writing to my heart’s content from sunrise to sunset. And then I remember that my debut novel, Nowhere to Hide, has to this day earned me less than $300, and I grudgingly accept the fact that having this day job is simply my reality, at least for now.

It’s tough, and at times extremely frustrating, but it’s life, and we struggle through because regardless of what else we have to do to have a good life for ourselves and our families, writing will always be something that has to be weaseled in somewhere, even if it’s just a few sentences while waiting for the toast to pop or the afternoon break to end.

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015 – Theme Reveal!

atoz [2015] - BANNER - 910
Yes, it’s that time again! In just a little over a week it will once again be time for the “A to Z Blogging Challenge“. When I found this challenge last year I was over the moon, because not only did it give me an easy way to come up with things to blog about for a full month, but it turned out to be an excellent way to gain new followers, find new blogs to follow myself, and meet new online friends. If you’ve never heard of the challenge, you should definitely think about checking out the website and maybe even signing up as a last-minute participant! There is still time, and it’s a ton of fun, I promise!

I had a ton of fun last year with my “Fictional Characters” theme, so of course I started thinking about 2015’s theme months in advance, but for a long time I had absolutely no ideas. For a little while there I was actually considering just doing the same theme again, since I was confident that I could come up with another 26 fictional characters to talk about, but I really didn’t want to do a repeat, so I kept thinking. Eventually I thought of an idea that I believe will be fun and entertaining. So here it is, my “A to Z Blogging Challenge” theme reveal for 2015…

Video Games!

Now mind you that this theme is going to be a little broad. For one thing, I might talk about video games that are so old there are teenagers alive today that have never heard of them, or I might talk about games that haven’t even been released yet. For another thing, I might not talk about a game specifically, but a video game character that I feel to be an important part of pop culture, or even a video game world that I love, or a console that was a big part of my childhood. The sky is the limit! (So long as the sky involves one use each of each of the letters of the alphabet.)

What do you think of the theme? Are you going to come back and check out my posts? What about the challenge…are you taking part yourself, and are you basing your posts on a theme? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!

Also, a reminder that I am running a contest throughout the month of March. For each comment you post on my blog throughout the month, you will receive one entry toward a draw for a hard-copy of my zombie apocalypse novel, “Nowhere to Hide”! Please note that in order to accept the prize, I will need you to give me a mailing address where I can have the book sent. If the winner drawn did not intend to enter the contest and/or does not want the book, I will draw another name. Please also note that obvious spam/duplicate comments/etc. will not be counted toward an entry…play fair! And good luck! ❤

Writing Process Blog Hop!

Last week fellow writer and blogger, Jay Dee Archer from I Read Encyclopedias tagged me for an interesting little blog hop about the writing process.  The questions are based around your current writing projects and process, which I thought was really fun and informative. I always enjoy hearing from other writers about what works for them and what they’re working on, so of course I had to take part in this particular hop. Please feel free to check out Jay’s entry when you’re finished with mine. 🙂

Photo 2-8-2014, 11 10 24 AMWhat Am I Working On?

The obvious answer would be the zombie apocalypse novel that I should be working through the final edits on instead of writing this post. But, since most of you have already heard about that often enough, I thought I’d talk instead about the project that I’m going to be working on as soon as the aforementioned edits are complete and out of my hair.

My next project is going to be something that I’ve been working on for a decade, but is going to have me pretty much starting back from scratch. I’ve mentioned this particular piece before, but for those who don’t know, the tentatively titled “Parallels” is the story of a young woman who, during a tumultuous time in her life, is transported to a parallel world and tasked with saving that world from an ancient evil. Back when I first started writing this story it was just a bit of cathartic fun to help get myself through a rough patch, but it grew and grew until I began to have visions of this epic story. Throughout the years I wrote and rewrote, changed the story, massacred the plot-line again and again, and eventually found myself with something that was a heck of a lot different than what I began with. In the past year or so I’ve spent a fair bit of time working on this particular piece, and I’ve had a lot of fun and came up with a lot of good ideas, but now it’s time for a truly big change. I am planning to begin the story over again, right from the beginning, as a young adult series. Because of the structure of the plot and the “A to B to C to D”-style goals involved with the story, I’ve come to the conclusion that “Parallels” would be much better set as a series than a single novel. I suspect that it will end up being six parts, based on the goal style mentioned, and I think that chopping it up in this manner will greatly improve the overall readability and enjoyability of the story.

How Does My Work Differ From Others of Its Genre?

This is actually a really hard question. I guess, in one sense, it differs from other works because at the core of the story is a creation built of my own personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires. Speaking from a more general standpoint, I’ve had people who have read bits of the story tell me that I have a fairly unique writing “voice”, which I’m pretty sure is a good thing. Aside from those two points I’m not really certain that I can answer this question without giving away any major points of the story.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

Whether it’s horror, fantasy, adventure, fan fiction, personal stories, or anything else, I write what I enjoy writing, and what I personally would enjoy reading. I’ve been reading scores of books since I was in grade school, so while I may not be the most talented writer in the world, I know what is fun, enjoyable, and captivating. I aim to write those kinds of books. I try to write the kinds of things that I love to read, like the horror scenes that make you squirm with discomfort, or the love scenes that makes your skin feel hot. If reading my own writing creates those kinds of reactions in myself, then I’m confident that it’ll create excellent reactions in others, and that’s my big overall goal.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?

The writing “process” for me is something that I’ve been struggling with since things other than reading and writing began to become important to me. When I was young I could literally sit for hours with a notebook and a pen and just write, write, write, but as I grew and began to enjoy other things, gather responsibilities, and change in numerous ways, it became harder to convince myself to spend that kind of time on my writing. These days my process is a bit of a hodgepodge mess of pantsing and panicking.

I’ve managed to bring some little bit of order to my writing life over the past couple of years via this blog. The desire to have a successful blog/author platform has driven me to keep returning to write posts on a five-day-a-week basis regardless of what else I have going on in my life. In the past year I have missed only a handful of days, and most of those were due to extraordinary circumstances. Blogging is my rock, the thing that makes me think of my writing as a bit of a job, and keeps me putting words to paper/computer screen.

Unfortunately that seems to be where any semblance of organization and dedication stop dead. I write sporadically, not on any kind of schedule. I very very rarely plan anything out in advance, instead opting to write from the cuff as the words and ideas come to my head. Sometimes I will write random scenes as they come to me, but for the most part I feel the need to write things in order, and I’ve been known to rewrite entire pieces from the beginning because one plot problem or inconsistency bugged me.

I’m a disorganized artist, and I don’t think I’ll ever be anything else, but as long as I get the writing done, that’s all that really matters, right?

Tag People!

I’m going to follow Jay’s example on this one, and tag those people who have commented the most on my blog and who also happen to be writers. So, L. Palmer, Tom Slatin, and Djinnia, consider yourself tagged! No pressure to participate, but if you do please link back here and let me know. 🙂

A to Z Challenge: Theme Reveal!


Although I’ve already written and scheduled a post for the day before this challenge starts, I wanted to take part in the big theme reveal blog-hop that is going on as we speak. For those who are reading this and have no idea what I’m talking about, there will be a more detailed post on March 31st.

Suffice it to say, for the purpose of this post, that the A to Z Challenge is a blog challenge to write 26 posts during the month of April, each one based on a letter of the alphabet. You don’t have to have a theme, but lots of people find it helps them to stay focused and come up with ideas for each of the 26 posts. I decided that a theme was just the thing for me, and so here we are, revealing it!

So without further ado, my A to Z Challenge theme will be…(*drum roll*)…Characters! Fictional characters, to be specific. Some of my favorite fictional characters, to be even more specific. 🙂

Throughout the month of April I will be talking about 26 of my favorite fictional characters, each of their names starting with the letters of the alphabet in turn. Sound like fun? I certainly hope so! I’m hoping that lots of A to Z participants will stop by to hear about all of my favorite characters and hopefully find some new books/TV shows/video games/movies to check out as a result. So wander back over here on April 1st and have a visit! You may just find a new favorite character of your own! 🙂