Between Gigs

This week I am traveling Catherine!

I had a weekend in Minneapolis with the gaming crew and some friends, and then left Monday for an overnight with students from the SEED program in Chicago. After a whirlwind tour and a very long bus trip, I am back at work for two days, at which point I head out for the usual sojourn at Wiscon with Dan, Lisa, and Yolanda.

If you’re going to Wiscon, you can catch me for sure in three places: I read Sunday morning at Michelangelo’s, 10 am. I’m on a Penny Dreadful panel Monday morning, and I’ll be at the sign out Monday mid morning.

Of course, I’ll be about doing about things. I hope to see you there.

Perfectionism: So Why Do I Write?

Wow. We end up here after all this.

I’ve been thinking about my psychology, but never in my (almost) 50 years have I thought about my psychology in terms of perfectionism. Which is amazing, because if you are my friend, you know it, don’t you? Especially if you are my friend and you have weathered several years of me, my high standards, my gruff demeanor and my attempt to alter your behavior, sometimes without being conscious of it, and sometimes cruelly on purpose, because I like to pretend I know what’s best for you.

You’ve noticed me not being happy with myself and trying to show that I am worthwhile by pulling stunts. I have always started out these stunts in an origin of desire. I wanted to get my PhD, for example, but by the time I finished it, I had managed to turn it into this mighty effort that I did not much enjoy. I often say that I enjoy having my PhD. That’s classic perfectionist. Shoot for the destination. Don’t enjoy the journey. The ends justify the means.

It’s the same with my weight. Even though I have slimmed down somewhat, I am inching my way back up. I want to be healthier, but what that means is eating good food and working out. However, the perfectionist says that life doesn’t start with fashion until you have reached that perfect weight. Again, I’ve improved, but you know, why am I waiting to enjoy something when I can enjoy it now? Why, when I look at a picture do I see all the flaws? Why can I not activate the content circuit?

These are rhetorical questions. You don’t have to answer them. I am very aware of my background and my genetic heritage. Like it or not, this is my battle. I need to work on these issues for all of you, but I also need to work on these issues for me.

Okay, so here’s this question: why do I write? Do I want to enter the published author industry? I’m knocking on the door, and people are letting me see in at this point. It’s just a matter of time if I keep doing what I’m doing, but I know people find this industry frustrating and high stress. Hey, I can make taking a bubble bath frustrating and high stress, so I wonder, is this a wise path for my sanity?

The biggest reason I started writing when I was a kid was because I wanted to submerge myself in story. I wanted to play. I enjoy video stories and written stories, and I live for those moments when characters laugh, cry and are triumphant, when emotion transcends their beings and they become more than themselves. I love story.

I love story whether I am orchestrating many characters, or I am acting as one. I love gaming, I love gming, I love writing, I love dressing up. I love story.

To make a book good, you revisit, refine and shape a story so that it is more of those incredible moments that you can live. I am in story telling because I’m looking for that story high. I watch Dead Like Me over once a year because I can find that story high. I game with my talented ensemble of actor friends because sometimes we stumble on that story high.

Of course, plotting the game can be a chore. Revision and proofread can be a chore. I can make this all one bleak, gray job. Another thing in my long list of things that I have to do. Not living in the moment of the thing, but being frustrated by the thing not being done.

You know, like exercising every day and not cracking the 200 pound barrier. Like feeling guilty about the ice cream cone rather than choosing to enjoy one every now and then because I like ice cream. The damned goal, over and over and over.

I will say something dramatic, like I’m done with it, but I am so not. It’ll come up again. It always does. Heck, this year was the biggest Type A train wreck I’ve had in a while, and that was just because of destabilizing change. And my first instinct? Run away, find a new job, and start fresh, which isn’t necessarily bad, but is a classic perfectionist technique.

That’s the thing about perfectionism. It’s a double-sided coin. I mean, I need a new job in Florida. Absolutely. But right now? Three years before Bryon’s ready to go? What about enjoying the ride? Living for the moment? Dick move, perfectionism. I see what you’re doing there.

So, back to writing. The journey is the important thing. The journey is the important thing Falling into the characters, loving what I’m writing, and doing the rest as part of a long stream of doing my art. Worry, angst, sadness, depression, procrastination, the illusion of no time, NONE of this helps me in any way. None of this produces results. It just wears me out so I can write less.

I write because I want to enjoy my life, and this is one of the ways I do it. I don’t care about the rest. This is vital for my health and well-being, and my sense of joy.

And that’s all I got to say about that.

Working Too Hard Part 497,235

One of the things that I will try to do this summer is to get back into the habit of writing here. Now, I haven’t been avoiding my blog because I don’t like to blog. No, I’ve been ridiculously busy for many reasons that I’ve talked about in other posts.

But let’s just stop offering up excuses. There is always work to do, and I will always have too much of it to do. My problem in interfacing with the world is that I am a workaholic who seeks to value myself through achievement, and quite frankly, this year, I have fallen off the wagon, big time.

And let’s cut here for those of you who are very, very bored.

Continue reading “Working Too Hard Part 497,235”

Paradise Lost

I just returned from San Antonio Texas for the 5th annual Paradise Lost, which is a workshop for alumns of Viable Paradise, Taos Toolbox, and basically any folks who have survived a neo-pro writers workshop and would like more of same. I went on the retreat track to get some writing done. I got some writing done. Not a ton, but enough to make the trip worthwhile. I also connected with some of my writing BFFs, and we supported and jammed on each others’ work. It was a good time.

This time, I spent a lot of time down by the Riverwalk, which I discovered is a terrific place to take your morning constitutional. I love the look and feel of the Riverwalk in the morning, from the lights reflecting on the water, to the people setting up the outdoor cafes and sweeping away the night before. I wouldn’t mind one running through the center of Cedar Rapids. Instead, we have a river. Well, you can’t have everything.

At any rate, Sean Kelly and his wife Michelle did a superlative job this weekend, and I appreciate all their effort. I do a much more minor event, Paradise Icon, and so I have a taste of what that planning feels like.

And I met so many nice new people! There were a lot of fun, wonderful folks there that it was just a joy to talk to.

Still plugging away on the novel. Fifth rewrite, page 143. Looking forward to summer break and getting this out the door. So Paradise Lost moved us a bit further in that direction.