Last Post of 2018!

The last year has been amazing. I had some ups and downs and made some mistakes, but it’s overall been really great. I’ve grown a lot, especially in the last half of the year.

In January I was buzzing from the excitement of a new relationship and working hard with Justine to prepare for Over the Invisible Wall’s launch. I was writing less than I wanted to, but I knew I had a deadline and obligations. I was spending a lot of time with my boyfriend, getting to know him. I found out in January that I didn’t get the big homeschool scholarship for free Praxis, but I did still get money off tuition! It was then that I moved my start date from July to October.

In February, Over the Invisible Wall launched. We decided to post twice a month because we lost half our team before December. We talked about starting the blog for a long time before jumping in. We tried to each have a couple of posts ready in advance. I had my first Valentine’s Day in a relationship. He gave me flowers and we spent the day together. I had started working on a sketchbook/scrapbook and showed him what I’d made so far.

In March, I started piecing together my poetry collection Inside a Writer’s Head. I initially called it Writing About Writing: Inside a Writer’s Head, but I decided later that just the second part would be a better title.

In April, I honestly don’t remember what I did at all. I checked in my journal, but I only wrote once and it was unhelpful.

In May, I joined my first Praxis Wednesday call. It was a chat with Rob Goodman about the Claude Shannon biography he co-authored. I was inspired and felt like I was on fire after that call.

In June, I committed to starting my personal blog in July. I wanted to take a month to prepare and have content ready. I didn’t want to stress myself out. I planned to ease myself into it.

In July, I turned eighteen! I spent my birthday with my boyfriend, and we watched Harry Potter and tried making butterbeer. I started my blog at the beginning of the month. I initially planned to post once a week and increase that until I was writing everyday. I changed my mind the next day and decided to jump in and write every day for as long as possible. I wrote from July 2-30. I was looking forward to starting Praxis, and was eager for it to start. More than before, because I knew I had barely any more waiting to go. I contributed a short historical piece to the Millstadt News magazine.

In August, I started the Praxis pre-program. I had some specific tasks and projects to do before I’d start in October. I continued my blog and Over the Invisible Wall, struggling to find a balance. I took a trip out to Millstadt to interview Terry Davinroy and his sister Sherry for another short historical piece for the Millstadt News. I learned a lot about journalism and making research writing trips. I really enjoyed looking into history and getting first hand information about it, too. My family took a belated birthday trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. We’d planned to go in July, but there was a conflict with Walmart that prevented it. I actually quit Panera to work full-time at Walmart.

In September, I posted more infrequently on the blog. I didn’t keep up with daily blogging for more than a couple days at a time. I struggled with some of the Praxis work, mostly feeling unclear directionally. I gave myself a break on vacation, and it made it harder to finish on time. I felt more stress than necessary.

In October, I realized I was very sick of Walmart, so I went back to Panera late in the month. I officially started Praxis! Module one was both easier and harder than I’d expected. Revising my pre-program deliverables was fairly easy, since I had some idea what needed improvement and what was lacking. The third week, we made pitch videos, and that was the hardest part. I struggled with it, but made something I’m at least mostly proud of. I need to watch it again, see if I should re-make it. I learned that I enjoyed filming and editing video, though, and started my Youtube channel this month as a result. Early on, I talked to the module advisor Hannah Frankman about the next module, the portfolio project. I wanted to make and market my poetry collection, she said I should make it before November and focus on marketing it. Brian Nuckols and Austin Batchelor confirmed, so I worked really hard to finish my module one deliverables and publish my poetry collection. I didn’t think I could do it, but I blew myself out of the water by finishing early!

In November, my poetry collection released! I spent the month posting on social media about the collection, doing my best to draw attention to it. I blogged every day as well, tying that into my project. Each week I wrote one to two posts about self-publishing generally or poetry collections specifically. The videos I made for my Youtube channel were on the same topic. I did a lot and pushed myself. I wasn’t able to run Facebook or Twitter ads because I couldn’t afford it, but I posted every day, started a giveaway, and shared the link to the Bookbaby sale page as soon as I had it up. I also voted for the first time ever! I felt involved in the 2016 elections, but this was the first year I was able to vote.

This month, December, has been really crazy. I expected the writing module to be a breeze, but it was really difficult at some points. I struggled with motivation a lot this month. I was frequently tired from working mornings and pushing myself to stay up long enough to accomplish everything else I wanted and needed to do. I accomplished a lot, but there were definitely times I could have done more if I’d been better rested and generally felt better. I made videos a few times this month, but I had fewer ideas for content and felt disinterested in video making. At least once I actually dreaded making it. I still did, but it felt like a chore. I had my one year anniversary with my boyfriend this month and we spent our first Christmas together! We started dating before Christmas last year, but it was so soon that a gift seemed a bit too couple-y. This year we’d been together, had Valentine’s Day and our birthdays together, so it was nice to have Christmas and come full circle.

I’ve had a crazy year, but it’s been really great. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds!

The Mingling of Inspiration and Goals

This whole blog has a lot of unplanned content written when I sat down to write. I’ll readily acknowledge that this is one of them. But I had some great ideas while driving home, and that inspiration led to the idea for this post.

Earlier this month, I wrote about how I experience inspiration. This idea is similar but is specifically on the intersection of inspiration and goals.

On the drive home I suddenly realized I wanted to write a sequel to The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan. I recognized despite my excitement, though, that if I want to finish my novel, I need to focus on that first. This idea is thrilling and has more appeal because it’s shiny and brand spanking new. But I committed to myself that I would finish my novel.

My approach to this dilemma is two-fold. On one hand, I won’t be giving up my goal of finishing my novel in 2019. On the other, I may allow myself to start the new stories after I finish the short story I started and in addition to any daily work on my novel I’m doing. Because I have a big goal and I’m sticking to it, I have to be strict with myself. I want to do both, but I have prioritized one over the other.

Inspiration has at least initially fueled all my story ideas, but it doesn’t decide what I do when. I wrote down the ideas I had, so I will more easily recall inspiration when I’m ready.

Communication and Respect in the Workplace

I was scheduled 7-4 today. Or so I thought. My schedule was changed to 11-3 without notice.

I get paid to be at Panera and do a range of tasks. I don’t choose when to be there. The managers make the schedule and I stick to it. But I need to know if my hours are going to change.

To switch shifts, I have to talk to my coworkers and have a manager sign off on the change. We give notice of who will be at work when.

But I was not told my schedule had changed.

I got up in time to get ready and be at work 5-10 minutes early. I walk in and my manager tells me that the schedule was changed, I have to leave and come back in four hours.

I had to waste my time and money because I was not told my hours changed.

I’ve been very frustrated by this today, and it makes me more aware how important it is to not waste people’s time.

Recap: The War of Art

I went in expecting to love this book. At first I did love this book. I had my disagreements with Steven Pressfield, but they weren’t on the writing advice.

The War of Art is a collection of connected short essays about being an artist. Pressfield writes extensively on what he calls Resistance. Resistance is the personification of anything and everything that keeps you from doing your work.

This is my review of the book as a whole. I have some contention with various specific details that I might go into another time.

In the first part of the book, Resistance: Defining the Enemy, Pressfield sets forth the nature of Resistance. This section of the book was my favorite. It was relatable, though repetitive. I’ve encountered a lot of what he mentions in my own life and creative pursuits. I do think he goes a bit far in defining Resistance, in some cases, though. On page 55, for example, he discusses rationalization. He admits that the excuses may be valid, but still calls them Resistance. “Our wife may really be in her eighth month of pregnancy; she may in truth need us at home…. What Resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly.”

In the second part of the book, Combating Resistance: Turning Pro, Pressfield defines a “professional” and how to beat Resistance. This section boils down to “Just Do It.” The whole section is about sitting down and getting to work. Doing it despite Resistance. I’ve heard that before, so I did not find it particularly helpful or valuable. I’m implementing that in my own life. I have been for quite a while now. I’ve been blogging every day since October and have 167 other posts on this blog since July. Pressfield has a position about the distinction between pros and amateurs that I somewhat disagree with.

In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his “real” vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.

p. 63

This ignores the monetary hurdles committing full-time can have. If I quit my job at Panera to blog and write full-time, I will starve. I will not be able to financially support myself if I don’t keep writing on the side for now. It’s my true passion, yes, and I want to do it full-time because I love it so much. I can certainly take steps to changing this. In fact, I have. My poetry collection Inside a Writer’s Head is available for sale. I’ve applied to freelance writing jobs. I write every day and share my blog on social media. I have Patreon set up. But right now, I make no money so I cannot quit my job. It is what it is. I’m resigned to it only because I know I can and will change this reality. I call myself a “pro” even though I’m doing it as a labor of love because I show up every day.

In the last part of the book, Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm, Pressfield’s creative self-help book turns into a spiritual exploration. This part bothered me the most. Not because I’m an atheist. But because that’s not what I signed up for. I did not read this book to have Pressfield’s view of spirituality as it relates to art pushed on me. On the second to last page, he writes, “In the end, we arrive at a kind of model of the artist’s world, and that model is that there exist other, higher planes of reality, about which we can prove nothing” (p. 163, emphasis added). I have a problem with the lack of evidence in his assertions. I’m given zero reasons to believe his claims that inspiration comes from the Muses or angels or God or beings from invisible realms. He just says it must be that way, that it is that way, and I’m expected to accept it. This whole section of the book felt ridiculous and frankly unnecessary. I would have enjoyed The War of Art more without it.

My Plans and Goals for 2019

I’ve done a lot in 2018, and there’s still a few days to do more.

I created and published a poetry collection. I started two blogs, Insanity’s Hiding Place (this blog) and Over the Invisible Wall. I took my novel-in-progress over 30k words. I finished my novella The Diary of Kaashif Sarwan.

Next year I want to do as much as I can.

I’ve made a habit of daily blogging and that will be continuing. Writing every day is important to me, so I will not quit.

In April I’ll be moving to apprentice with one of the business partners with Praxis. That’ll be at least six months, maybe longer. I’m going to do great work, push myself, and grow a lot personally and professionally through this experience.

January is the philosophy module at Praxis, which has a lot of reading, but it will be an adventure. That’ll kick off the new year with some hardcore thinking.

inish my novel-in-progress, Mystical Warriors. I don’t know how long it will be, I don’t know how much work it will take. But it’s taken long enough so far. I need to finish it. I’m not sure when I want my target to be for the first draft’s completion, but I want to push myself to finish it.

Make the manuscript for my next poetry collection. I don’t want to release another poetry collection for a while, but I have the start of another poetry collection. I’m going to scrap what I have and start over, though. Now that I know the basics of making a collection, this one should be a breeze. It will be much longer, though, so that might present its own troubles.

Develop Gràďlutut to a point where it’s possible to have conversations. I’d like to make short video lessons about/for the language, but there’s not enough to it yet for that to even be possible.

Develope N’Zembe, write more stories, develop more species, write more history. I have so little knowledge of the system, I’d like to change that. The worldbuilding is still so lacking, and that’s the whole point of the project. I’m creating a whole star system to host stories, and the process is fascinating to me. I already know I will never stop working on this, and I made it vast purposefully. There’s 10 inhabited planets out of 18, and a ton of moons, which may or may not be habitable or inhabited. The base language is the same, but the derivations and evolution of that on different planets will be drastically different.

These are my main writing and career goals for 2019.

On Working Holidays

As someone with a service job, I have become accustomed to working on holidays. It’s not fun and I’d much rather be with family. At the same time, the free market explains why businesses are open on holidays and how people could change this if they dislike it.

Last year at Walmart I worked the day before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving, and Black Friday. Panera is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I worked today, Christmas Eve. Last year I worked Christmas Eve at Walmart.

The worst customers will lament the terrible fact that people are working on holidays. While shopping there.

If people voluntarily decided to stop doing business on holidays, companies will have no reason to be open on holidays. As it is, enough people want to go out and shop that businesses find it profitable to be open.

Most places have more limited hours for Christmas Eve and/or Thanksgiving and are closed on Christmas. If they didn’t, they might lose workers, which could prevent them from opening at all.

Money and employees drive a business. Serving customers well and when they want service has a lot of influence on business hours.

If everyone bought Christmas presents and food before Christmas Eve, shops would be closed that day. Those workers who were asked, “Why do they make you work Christmas Eve?” will not be asked that, because they will be at home with their families.

You can’t change the world if you don’t first change yourself.

Disaster Preparedness

Today I got a flat tire. Thank goodness I had a spare in the trunk.

It made me realize that it’s important to be prepared. Sometimes bad things happen and they’re usually unexpected.

I keep a camel hair blanket in my car in case I break down, especially now that it’s winter. I had a spare in my trunk in case of a flat.

Having some sort of plan where possible for if something happens can help. But it could also drive me nuts.

If I’m constantly thinking about what if there’s a storm or a fire or a flood or a car crash or some other problem, I’ll never do anything.

I can’t sit and worry forever. I have to do my work and live my life.

Mood, Productivity, and Sleep Schedules

I prefer to go to bed at midnight or later and get up around nine. Last night I went to bed at 7:30 pm and I got up today at 3 am.

I feel like a complete wreck. Sort of okay, but not quite right.

I went to bed earlier the two nights before to prepare as well as I could. Tuesday I didn’t have a choice but to stay up til about 11 because of my shift at work.

I closed and opened at work in the same few days. I could not keep a sleep schedule. That may not have helped me. I know I’m more of an afternoon/evening person. I agreed to work mornings at Panera, and to open today.

On top of feeling rather crazy this week (which I mention a bit here), I didn’t sleep well the last few days. I predicted that that would be the case yesterday, too.

Not getting enough sleep has made me more irritable, crabby, and unproductive. I’m worn out when I get home from work and I have my own work to do — Praxis, this blog, Over the Invisible Wall, everything I do before it comes to the blog.

If I can change my schedule, either by working different shifts at work or finding some freelance jobs, I can change this pattern.

Instead of feeling constantly tired and worn out, I can fit my body’s sleep preferences. I feel more energized when I sleep from 12 or 1 am to 8 or 9 am. I wake up faster and reach a point where I can be productive sooner. That means I can do more that day.

I’ve given myself a few lax days, not pushing myself to do a lot of work. I’ve been wearing myself out, and I need to stop.

I can change my patterns and be healthier and more productive. If you can identify your sleep and work preferences, so can you.

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