Writing frustrations

I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard at my writing job for the past several days. This is partly because I’ve had a little spike of focus thanks to resuming my 3x weekly megadose of Vitamin D and a big spike in energy thanks to cycling neurochemistry (it sounds fun but it actually mostly isn’t) and partly because I’m seeing the positive outcomes of my budgeting efforts over the past couple months. The end of 2013 was a real financial low point for me and wiped out what little savings I had put together; Pantheacon was another financial weight that I had to recover from so I got a little more serious about budgeting. It’s helped a lot but with rent increases, various medical woes, a chronic illness cat of my very own, and now the actual legitimate need for a tablet computer to save for, it’s been a tight few months. My writing job is piecework, so the more I do, the more I earn; getting lots done when I’m feeling good is my protection against lost earnings when I can’t focus.

(I’ve also been quite busy getting the hand bound Odin devotional books out the door. Let’s not forget that. There’s another 4 on my table now!)

I had planned on ย giving a little attention to each of my personal writing projects on a rotating daily schedule. That worked fine for a couple days but I couldn’t keep it up. I’ll give it a try again this week but it might be that this schedule is not a good fit for the way I work. That said, I’ve gotten a few more hundred words done on a book that I’m very slowly putting together and I’ve developed a structure for my MGW presentation and I’ve gotten a few pages of notes written to go along with it.

I’ve also got another idea for a book that I’d love to work on but – well, just look at all that stuff I’ve complained about up there. I’m only making appreciable progress on *one* of my writing projects right now, never mind that I have a few thousand words promised to an editor like 2 months ago.

I know I’m not alone in these frustrations. I hate feeling so far behind on the things that I really care about, all the things I really want to accomplish. I also don’t like how slowly I work when I do manage to get moving. I’ve really only got 2 hours of good writing time in me in one session and I typically have only manage one writing session a day; there’s just too much else that needs done.

So I’m frustrated. I’m grumpy that my energy and focus is so entirely eaten up by my writing job – don’t get me wrong, I actually really like earning a living like this but the drawback is less attention spent on my own work. I don’t really make a lot of money off my personal writing; I never have. (How much do I make? In a month I might have earned enough to buy something from a fast food dollar menu. MIGHT.)

I like writing. I like it quite a bit, actually. I like working by myself, I’m a good self-starter, I can even occasionally follow a project through to completion. It’s work I happen to actually be reasonably good at and I feel that, with practice, I can get even better. It’s still work, though. I still have to show up for it every day and put in the effort. When I see just a few hundred more words on the page and I’m out of ideas I feel like my progress is not equivalent to my effort. Shouldn’t I have a book by now? I’ve been working on Heartroad 2 for something like 5 years. I’ve got maybe 8,000 words. I don’t need another book idea; I need to finish one of the ideas I’ve already been cooking.

Ah well. Others have managed to produce under considerably more pressing circumstances than myself. I’ll finish some of these projects eventually but I’m sure to leave this life with many, many things unsaid.

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12 thoughts on “Writing frustrations

  1. The Black Stone Hermitage says:

    Ah, how I can relate. I’ve juggled paid gigs as a freelance writer before; I too often got grumpy at how much of my time and energy it consumed, and how little I had left over for what I really wanted to write…even though it was a pretty decent way to earn a living compared to many of the “bread-and-butter” jobs I’ve had.

    I’ve never made much money from my personal writings either, though it’s possible that I could make more if I had enough time to do things like edit and release some of the reams and reams of unpublished work that is sitting in my archives, or actually work on my unfinished book manuscripts full-time. These days I’m focusing on non-fiction articles, essays, and books, but back in my twenties I wrote a book of erotic fiction stories. A few of the stories were published online and in small press print media under a pseudonym, but I never released them in book form. I keep thinking that if I could get those stories and essays polished up and out into the Kindle market, at least I might be able to earn some supplementary income, however meager. But most of my time is consumed by my house cleaning business and the training program I’m enrolled in for a new job in the tech industry, so the writing I want to do has now been pushed to the margins of my life.

    I miss the days when I had a spouse to share the financial burdens, household duties, etc., as I was able to get a lot more writing done back then. What I wouldn’t give for a world where all writers who wanted to could quit their day jobs, or at least reduce their hours, and focus full-time on the writing they actually want to do! That’s just one of the many reasons I support an unconditional basic income for everyone.

    If it makes you feel any better, I write very slowly too – partly because of the way my creative process works, and partly because of my life circumstances. In fact, I’ve been working on one of my manuscripts for over 10 years on and off. I set that half-finished one aside when I started work on my current manuscript, and plan to take up work on it again several years down the line. And I know other writers who’ve taken twice as long to finish writing a book. One size does not fit all here, so to speak. In any case, I sure hope I don’t leave this life before I can finish writing those two book manuscripts!

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    • Silence says:

      Yeah, I generally feel like my time is pretty fairly compensated for writing; it’s taken me a couple years to work up to a decently paid team but it’s not like this work is especially hard – it’s just a little time consuming and detail-oriented (I write marketing copy). I earn half my monthly income via writing – which is pretty impressive, even if the amount itself is not all that remarkable. I’ve managed to make very small in-roads into the Kindle erotica market and that’s actually been pretty fun. If I cared more about these particular stories I could easily make them novella length and up the price point but I’m really not very invested. Those sales do seem to generate exponential increases so for a while my goal was one new erotic story a month but eh – not invested. ๐Ÿ˜› (I’m not terribly experienced with the Kindle market but if there’s anything I can do to help you get started there, let me know!)

      I’ve thought a lot about how much easier writing would be if I had someone helping to run the household. I love living alone but trading off tasks like grocery shopping or laundry day would give me an entire day to focus; as it is those are my chores each and every weekend, regardless. Perhaps the imaginary lifestyle submissive I have over to clean my fridge will also be available to make tea and sammiches.

      Ooo, unfinished manuscripts! Can I ask what they’re about? ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • The Black Stone Hermitage says:

        It’s great that you’re able to earn half your income via writing. That IS pretty impressive! When I was doing paid gigs as a subcontractor, I also wrote marketing copy (for a health services company). Eventually, after I finish my web developer training and get hired, I hope to put together some kind of sustainable arrangement involving multiple streams of income – perhaps through a combination of part-time web dev work plus part-time writing.

        Thanks for the offer to help with getting started in the Kindle erotica market! Very kind of you. That will be on the back burner for me for quite some time, since I don’t have much interest in writing more erotic fiction these days. But I do hope to get my existing book of stories edited and published for that market someday. And I have some personal essays on a wide variety of subjects that I’d like to publish at some point too. So if you have any links to articles you recommend about getting started with Kindle publishing, I’m certainly interested in reading more. I am curious, though…what did you mean by “exponential increases”?

        As for my unfinished manuscripts – one of them is called “On The Leisure Track: Radical Alternatives to Conventional Employment.” It’s about half finished (60,000 words) and I’ve been working on it, on and off, for over ten years. The first chapter is online on my Rethinking the Job Culture blog. For a number of reasons I won’t go into here, I set that manuscript aside when I started work on my current manuscript – “Endarkenment: The Esoteric in Dark Ambient Music and Culture.” When I finish the latter manuscript, I plan to take up work on the former manuscript once again.

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      • Silence says:

        I can’t think of any Kindle how-tos off hand. A writer friend of mine helped me get started. If I find anything I’ll let you know.

        Exponential increases: it seems that readers who like an author’s work are more likely to make multiple purchases. Thus every new piece of work released has the potential of driving sales for older work. Even though I only have a couple pieces, I’ve noticed this happening. That’s why I need to revisit my goal of releasing a new piece of erotica every month or so….

        (I think that’s a correct application of exponential increases. I’ve been battling dizzy spells all weekend so I might not be using the right term.)

        And oh boy, I do hope you finish Endarkenment. ๐Ÿ™‚ I saw a couple mentions of it on your blog; it sounds very interesting. Alternatives to conventional employment also sounds like something I’d be interested in…

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      • The Black Stone Hermitage says:

        Don’t worry about the Kindle thing, as it will be quite some time before I can tackle the whole ebook project…and the ebook publishing industry changes quickly. It’s possible that by the time I get around to it, I’ll need to focus more attention on Scribd and Oyster. We’ll see. Thanks for the offer, in any case – I do appreciate that.

        It certainly makes sense that as more new readers discover a writer and like their work, they will drive sales for earlier work too.

        And thanks for your interest in my book manuscripts! Though progress is slow, I feel confident in saying that I will finish Endarkenment. The process is being driven by forces much larger than me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have a Facebook page for updates, so if you ever get back on Facebook you can check there for info.

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    • Silence says:

      (On the subject of shrine offerings, do you have any feelings about products from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab or about personal scent products in general? I got a sample with my last order from them that I would love to share if a bit of blended perfume product is something that would be useful or appropriate. Though in honesty this particular one is less for Her and more something that might be nice in your own work but I might end up with something that strikes me as a good offering, as well.)

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      • The Black Stone Hermitage says:

        Thanks for asking! I have a difficult time with scented products in general, especially perfumes – I’ve had skin reactions and respiratory distress (I have allergies and asthma). There are a few exceptions, but I’ve had to look far and wide to find them. That said, I have never tried anything from BPAL so it might be worth a sniff at least…with the caveat that I am super finicky about scents. If the sample didn’t work for me, though, I don’t think you’d have any trouble finding someone else at MGW who would be interested.

        After years of experimentation, I finally found a few incenses that don’t cause adverse reactions for me; they are all woodsy scents like fir, pine, spruce, and cedar. And I loooove Grandpa’s Pine Tar Soap. The closer this witch gets to the scent of the forest, the happier she is! My favourite of the ones I can tolerate is cedarwood from Santa Fe/Incense of the West. I burn it every day while I drink my Lapsang Souchong and listen to dark ambient music. Bliss!

        I do have a ritual perfume made with essential oils of Douglas Fir, Elemi, and Frankincense; it was made by Incendiary Arts specifically for Skadi, and I only wear it in the context of specific devotional activities for Her. Fortunately that one has given me no trouble at all.

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      • Silence says:

        I totally understand; I’m fairly sensitive to scents myself. I’ve had pretty good luck with BPAL but even the all-essential-oils route isn’t perfect. The perfume blend I was thinking of is called Deep in Earth (info here: http://blackphoenixalchemylab.com/shop/ars-moriendi/deep-in-earth/) In the bottle is smells like fresh turned soil, which instantly made me think that it’d be something perhaps useful for incubation and underworld-type meditation work (plus I personally associate Skadi and many other feminine Jotnar Powers with subterranean spaces so my bias is certainly at work here).

        That ritual oil blend sounds lovely. I discovered a love of smell-goods as an adult. I hate drugstore crap and except for top shelf perfume, I dislike all of it. Detergents, soaps, pretty much anything with a chemical perfume got tossed years ago. Discovering that oh hey, there’s perfume in this world that doesn’t make me sick, and oh hey, scent can be an immensely pleasing experience was a big personal milestone. I still have to be careful with incense and scented candles but thankfully sandalwood is in the OK list (love love love sandalwood).

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      • The Black Stone Hermitage says:

        The Deep in Earth blend sounds good except for the rose geranium. Floral scents in general (especially rose and jasmine) are off-putting for me. I can’t think of any florals that I like. I should go poke around the BPAL site someday, though, as I’ll bet they have some things I’d appreciate for the incubation and underworld work.

        I am thrilled – thrilled, I tell you! – to hear that you associate Skadi and other feminine Jotnar Powers with subterranean spaces. That’s the first time I’ve heard that anywhere, but it instantly spoke an enthusiastic “yes!” to me. I’d like to talk at length with you about this sometime, as I have sometimes wondered why I seem to get so much encouragement from Those I serve toward working in subterranean spaces when I’m primarily devoted to a goddess Who is most readily associated with mountains.

        I love sandalwood too, though I don’t use it often since the really good stuff isn’t cheap!

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      • Silence says:

        My experience with rose geranium is that it’s a distinctly green scent but florals certainly have a range of intensity. I’ll bring it with and if you like it, it’s yours. (And if there’s anything I can do to enable BPAL-ing, do let me know. My friend Beth turned me on to them many years ago and paying the favor forward is the least I can do.)

        Ugh, the price of sandalwood is tragic. Buying a new string of beads brought all kinds of angst to my life. I simply adore the fact that sandalwood trees exist at all; they have given humanity so, so much and the patience and longsuffering of a tree is like nothing else. They produce tools that are like nothing else I’ve ever used and yet it’s this very value that’s driven outrageous harvesting and exploitation to dangerous levels. Buying new sandalwood anything almost felt like an ethical compromise. I don’t regret the purchase (I think) but I wish there were just loads of used prayer beads laying around for me to repurpose. :/

        I’m happy to share what little perspective I might have. My association with feminine Jotnar is fairly limited (Hela, Skadi, and the feminine Loki primarily and Gunnlod and Bestla through accounts from friends and small personal gleanings, a bit with Angrboda and even Sinmara through limited, long-ago interactions) but subterranean spaces is a theme that keeps repeating. At the risk of being reductionist, I’d almost venture that it’s a pervasive characteristic of (certain) groups of feminine Jotnar that underlies their respective individual personalities. And although lots of Jotnar in general seem to participate in this subterranean theme, it seems particularly pronounced with feminine ones.

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  2. Angela says:

    I feel you on a lot of this. I love to write, but I don’t feel like I have the focus to do what I desperately want/need to do, let alone to do fun stuff like writing (it’s a hobby for me). Still, I have promised stories, and I feel like I let people down when I don’t produce as fast as I’d like. There is just so much on my mind that I feel overfull and I don’t know where to start.

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    • Silence says:

      I get down on myself about low production, too. There are so many ideas that I’d like to explore through writing and to share with other people. I can definitely relate to that overfull feeling.

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