Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: the passage of time is surprising and unnerving

About blogging.

When I was a kid, I was a ruiner of lunchboxes. I’d leave them full of tupperware containers for a day, then two…then I’d be afraid to open them because of the scary mold. Then I’d think after a week or so, oh CRAP I’d really better clean out my lunchbox…but the mold is probably stinky and funny colors by now, so I can’t possible touch it…

Anyway. Blogging is a little bit like that. *embarrassed cough*

So. I did, in fact, finish my NaNoWriMo novel. While I didn’t like the finished project as much as the one from last year, a.k.a. November Girls, I did meet a character whom I totally love, and there are a few snappy scenes that I can work with. So all in all, I’m glad I NaNo’ed again.

My current projects include continuing to revise November Girls and applying to various higher education thingies, i.e. various MFAs and the Clarion West writer’s workshop. I’m applying with a section from Freedomland; we’ll see what happens!

If you want small juicy morsels of creative writing, check out TypeTrigger. I mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again. It’s like badass literary twitter. Why follow Snooki on twitter when you could follow me on TypeTrigger? Seriously. It’s in beta right now; the public site release date is January 20th. World: be prepared for amazingness.

You Always Hurt the Ones You Love

Or, some thoughts on time management.

I am thinking about times in my life when I’ve worked my ass off. Times when I’ve been pulling ridiculously long days and (mostly) enjoying it. Most of those times involved one or more of the following: 1. college, 2. a theater production, and/or 3. a writing project with an immanent deadline. The last time I’ve worked really hard and gotten a lot done was probably last November, during NaNoWriMo. Before that, it was working to get the dang novel edited and out the door in 2009. In both cases, I had an outside force working to motivate me. Even though they were both my projects, having an outside agency (other WriMos and the NaNoMeter of how many words I’d written, a self-publishing company) was vital to my success.

It rankles me that I work so much harder for other people than for myself. I think of all the times in college when fearing the wrath of a scary professor or the shame of late assignments was all that kept me going. I wasn’t always motivated out of Maslow’s Highest Tier in the Hierarchy of Needs…nah, much of the time I was motivated by fear or guilt…I worked out of “safety” needs rather than “self-actualization.”

Why is that? Why do we need to be motivated by fear to get really important personal stuff done? Why do we give our time so freely to others but struggle in giving it to ourselves? I’m not even talking about a ubiquitous “We”, I’m talking about me as a female in American society. I am programmed to respond to others before myself, which is a noble quality that will not get my novels written. I am programmed to deal quickly with things that are urgent, which is a useful quality that will not get my novels written.

I had a time-management class with the brilliant Wendy Call, who talked about to-do lists. To-do lists, she argued, are more or less crap. If you have a list of items, you will first do what is urgent, not necessarily what’s important. Better to have goals, she said. Better to think about concrete goals that you can do, like upping a word count or sending out a given number of manuscripts. What this said to me was, Best not to make my writing life an option. Make it a requirement. Get it done. And if it takes Write or Die to do it sometimes, well, I’m not sure that matters.

Some people hate this mindset. Some people I’ve talked to can’t stand the thought of forcing writing ever. Writing must be spontaneous to be any good, they say. Writing comes from a higher source, and you are a channel. You must wait to be in the mood, Inspired. Think about the word inspiration. It means breathing. Breathing is something that you do all the time, but becomes a powerful tool when made conscious. Likewise, I think that writing is something that is most powerful when made conscious, but really should be done ALL THE TIME. That spiritual source of writing is a radio station; it’s always on, you’ve just gotta tune in. So it’s not that I am a soulless unspiritual writing-forcer, it’s that I don’t think I want to wait around for inspiration to strike me. I want to keep the pump primed so that on the days when it does come, when I am writing out of a place of self-actualization, I can have a greater outpouring. If I write every day, then the blank page isn’t so scary, and sometimes I go to the mountain of Inspiration instead of waiting for it to come to me.

Radio Silence

Let me give my obligatory apology for the radio silence. My excuse is as follows:

1. A week of reading deprivation. I did this much for the same reasons you’d undertake a fast. In this case, I was insane and frustrated for about three days, then calmed down enough to remember that there are many important things I can do in my life, for example tending to my garden, connecting with friends, and making stuff. This could also be termed Operation Save My Weeknights From Oblivion. I tend to come home tired, get glued to a screen or a book and then actually stay up much later than I meant to because of the mesmerizing powers of said book or screen. It’s a damaging cycle, and the week of reading deprivation helped break it.

2. A week of technology fasting a.k.a. “turn off the TV week”. Similar results but less psychosis.

3. Laziness and generalized fear of the universe.

So. Cycle busted. Normal blogging service resuming.

Look, something shiny:

March.

March the only month that is also a verb, and frankly that’s what the month is feeling like, a march through the weeks, doing my best to just get through time. At the beginning of my work day, I am marching through to the end, waiting to go home so I can wait to feel better. Normally my early, cold spring doesn’t have this level of ennui; mine is definitely tempered by an obnoxious cough that won’t go away and the end of my writing class with David Wagoner. It leads me to think a lot about where I want to go with my writing career, which is inexorably tied to my life path.

In pondering my writing, I’ve realized two things: one, my prose really is good enough to polish up and submit to some places. I once did an experiment of submitting one piece a month, and I had a poem published four months in. Pretty good, I’d say. It’s time to do that again, and I think I found an anthology to submit to for this month. Two, I totally lust after grad school and exclusive, expensive writers’ retreats. Time to get a portfolio together!

There’s something about March. It’s far enough into the year that you need to start meaning what you say. It’s a month where you shit or get off the pot. I’ve noticed this trend in my friends: several of my artist buddies are spending their Marches buckling down and getting serious. Well, me too.┬áMy hope for the rest of the month is that my body heals enough to march along with my mind.

Webcomic of the Day

Ever since I was fifteen years old and stumbled across Sluggy Freelance, I’ve been secretly in love with webomics. In high school, webcomics and I went at it like rabbits. I’d read ten or fifteen daily, mostly on sites like Keenspot. I mellowed out in college a bit, mostly because I picked up the habit of paper comics instead. In fact, I became somewhat of a comics lit-geek. Now it’s kind of surreal to think that many of the comics I used to read have been around for TEN YEARS. When did that even happen?

These days I read only a few regularly: xkcd, Questionable Content, all of the creations of Drew Toothpaste and Natalie Dee, and sometimes Dinosaur Comics or Wondermark. There are others that I enjoy, a list far too long to mention. Except one. Recently I sat down and read in about three sittings the entirety of Anders Loves Maria, a Swedish comic by Renee Engstrom that just recently ended. My god. I cannot believe literature/entertainment of this quality is available on the internet for free. Seriously! The comic is a love story, spanning about four years of work which I devoured in just a few hours. It’s beautifully drawn, and has a masterful story structure.

Seriously, log off of Warcraft, sign out of gmail, and read this comic. Start at the beginning. It’s totally worth your time. And I don’t say that lightly about comics.

<resist> urge to go through and rank every comic I’ve ever read </resist>

Anyway, more later about my classes with David Wagoner, absurdist plays, and all of the other things that are bouncing around in my pea brain.

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