Committed

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That there is a screenshot from my receipt for the commissioning of three covers for my space opera project. I had to take a couple of deep breaths before I clicked the buy button; I’ve never, ever spent so much money related to side venture. And immediately the doubts poured forth: what if I never break even on the covers alone? Should I have picked a cheaper artist? A more expensive one? What if I get a bunch of one star reviews? What if I never finish the sequels? What if someone I know picks up the book and the shame of my terrible writing becomes known? What if no one buys it at all? Have I been going about this all wrong and don’t even know it?

But. The fact of the matter is, I did click that buy button. It means I’m committed. I want to do this, have always wanted to do this, and I have no time to waste. The baby needs a mother with some measure of courage.

Also, I have too much scrimpy immigrant in me to spend that much money and not try to squeeze all the value I can out of it.

Finally, I like this story. I’m having fun writing it, which is more than I can say for some other things I’ve worked on. I would write this story even if it did go exactly nowhere. So maybe–even if my worst dreams came true, and it was a commercial flop, I would still be happy to have written it. That’s a good thing.

When I look at my previous post, I realize that I’m really not so behind when it comes to SV goals. I’ve outlined SO1 extensively and is 25% written; SO2 is lightly outlined, and I know how SO3 ends. I didn’t complete nano (blame he-who-shall-not-be-named, a cold, a 7 month old, and Thanksgiving), but am still continuing to write at a steady pace. I found a cover artist. We’re on track.

Deep breaths.

Updated SV goals for the end of the year
-Finish SO1
-Finish SO3 light outline
-If time, do detailed outline for SO2 + SO3
-Start list of blog topics (have backlog of 5-10 before publication of SO1)

2017 Q1 SV Goals
-Complete SO2
-Detailed outline for SO3
-Hire proofreader for SO1
-Set up mailing list
-Compile list of new release book promo sites
-Find advance reviewers
-Get EIN/DBA?
-Facebook page?
-Plan for February release?!

2017 Misc/long-range goals
-Complete SO3
-Return to romance pen name, finish short stories 1-3
-Further blog topics for SO
-AWS/Facebook ads?
-Make $10k in 2017

“You know who DOES have a funny bone in her body? Your Mom every night for a dollar!”

“You know who DOES have a funny bone in her body? Your Mom every night for a dollar!”  -Tina Fey, Bossypants

The rib improves–I think. It was pretty marginal for the last week, as I winced my way through the day, alarming Carter with my squeaks as I turned over in bed and heaving myself up and out of couches and chairs and car seats. Underwire bras have been banished. Extensive couch time has been prescribed. Multiple naps have been undertaken.

The ribcage still hurts and I do yelp in pain if I happen to cough or sneeze or twist too far in one direction or another, but it’s slowly, slowly, slowly less noticeable. The naps will continue until morale improves.

Meanwhile baby is thumping away. I think I’ve located her butt or her hip, which she likes to push out where my stomach used to be; I can feel the fluttery squirm of her feet a few inches on my right side. Her head is down pressing against my cervix, as it has been for the past few weeks. We saw it on the ultrasound during my last appointment: a big round circle, wedged at the bottom of my uterus. It didn’t move much. There it will stay, I think, until she’s ready for her grand entrance.

A good sign of my recovery is my ability to knock things off my to-do list. Today’s been a good day. I’ve scheduled my haircut, made shopping lists for the friends baby shower this Sat, and dropped a few things off at the donation center. I’ve written about 3k words for Side Venture since Sunday. Who knows, I might even make 10k steps for the first time in a few days!

Yesterday we visited with Lisa and Erik and their sweet newborn for the first time. My goodness, she was so little, but had such a big presence! And made such impressive poops! Seeing her made it real what was going to happen to us very, very soon. Carter came home and set up our pack n’play, moved even more things up to the attic and bought a TV from Costco for future daddy-soothing purposes.

The next list is going to be simplified and completed tasks removed, I think. Tomorrow is 37 weeks and time is speeding by (a consequence of overnapping?).


*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Thank you cards for family baby shower
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Freeze ripe bananas

Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Buy covers
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel
Pay Q1 2016 taxes

 

“It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.”

“It is impossible to go through life without trust: That is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.” – J.M. Barrie

Not quite running on fumes–maybe running on low? A quarter tank? It’s been a busy weekend. Friday I finished outlining my SFR–finally–and we went out for groceries on top of a doctor’s appointment and a pediatrician meet n’greet. We shared a salad and chicken sandwich at Gregoire’s while the rain poured outside, and then the rest of the day was spent tapping away at my outline.

I had written in my diary that it was going to be done whether I liked it or not, and lo and behold, I did write it. I’m happy with 4/5 of it. The final story will need some finessing, but it’s good enough that I can get going with writing, if I want. Frankly I’m excited to write it. It’ll be a nice change from what I’ve been working on before.

Saturday was spent at the hospital 10-4 at a baby care class. The class was full of beleaguered pregnant ladies and their partners; I could hear the rustle of snacks being broken out a mere hour after it began, and in the corner of the room one woman who was due to deliver soon napped on her chair. I think the men may have gotten more out of it than the women. When we came home I took a nap despite it being five o’clock; it was only twenty minutes but it gave me the fuel to get through the rest of the day. Carter and I washed our way through 4 loads of hand-me-downs and baby shower clothes, and spent the evening folding and watching TV.

Today was comparatively more relaxed. We slept in until 10:30AM (well, 9:30 pre-daylight savings) and when I got up I made panettone french toast for breakfast along with an egg-and-bacon quesadilla, and then we went to Point Isabel for an hour of watching Beast romp through mud and rain and sea water from the shore. Needless to say he was quite tired when it was all through. We went to Target which was curiously crowded for some returns and an early stock-up on paper towels, detergent, trash bags and frozen organic fruit. All the while it rained.

At home we swore off naps in an effort to go bed on time, and ate the leftover halves of our Thai noodles from the night before. He cleaned out his dresser upstairs, and I finished up my thank you notes and did a few other chores. I cooked a roast chicken with potatoes and brussels sprouts. Carter skipped dessert but I ate a small bowl of balsamic roasted strawberries and vanilla ice cream.

Funny: I notice that I write a lot about food and especially what I cooked, but my achievements are few and far between these days. Cooking is an accomplishment.

The rain has been refreshing and needed but I won’t lie–I’m looking forward to a week of relative sunniness ahead. I hope it will give me a jolt of energy. I am so tired.

 


*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Thank you cards for family baby shower
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Freeze ripe bananas
Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Finish outlining space opera book 2
Outline space opera book 3
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel

“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.”

“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.” – H. Allen Smith

Exhausting weekend, but a good one, and voila, it is already Tuesday!

Friday we attended a comfort class run by our doulas, then stuffed our faces with chicken sandwiches at Gregoire’s before running errands at Home Depot, Sports Authority (birth ball!), and the grocery store. I was so bushed by the end of it that I took a 1.5 hour nap in the afternoon, which is long even for me these days. We spent the evening baking our gender reveal cupcakes for the baby shower, frosting and sprinkling the little pink treats.

Saturday we got up and promptly took Beast out to the dog park, running him hard in the rain, drugging him with Dramamine and then getting on the road for Merced. The rain was spotty, and by the time we rolled in front of Carter’s parents’ house the sky was looking ominous but still holding. The shower happened; I’m a bit foggy on the details, as it was a blur of my in-laws’ family and friends, opening presents with our rambunctious little niece, and chowing down on salad and angel food cake. All very ladylike. We stayed for dinner and a tantrum; we got on the road and by the time we were approaching Oakland the sky unleashed the heaviest rains I remember seeing on a highway. All the cars slowed down to 40 MPH and we inched our way home around 10PM.

Sunday was a day of absolute sloth. How do I know? I have no to-do list from that day. Nothing attempted and nothing accomplished. Dear friend J came over for lunch at Gather in downtown Berkeley; she’s normally a vegetarian but was delighted to find sustainable/local meats on the menu and got herself a bacon cheeseburger. I think half the joy was watching her gobble it down. I had a more restrained egg and forbidden rice dish with kimchi, and we split a truly divine French toast. After the meal we walked around campus and talked about her impending adventures: a summer in Oxford/London, her career, boys, and Asian pastries. J lived in Singapore before she came back to the bay area for the Goog and part time law school; she speaks fluent Russian and French (grew up in Kyrgyzstan) and is a truly cosmopolitan brainiac. I’m almost envious of her adventures to come, if I weren’t, well, otherwise occupied! I bought Carter a pastry from 85C and a boba tea for myself, and the rest of the day disappeared in total indolence.

This week I am feeling relieved that the shower is over and eager to finish out the items on my lists. I’m not as lazy as I was last week–I think. More! Lists!


*Small things I’m excited to do once this baby is outta here*
Sleep on my back
Sleep on my stomach
No more pregnancy rhinitis/congestion
Fit into my shoes again
Wear my wedding rings again
Take Sudafed if I want
Run/exercise with a smidge more intensity
No more random pains in the stomach
No more itchy belly skin
Lean over and touch my toes, do crunches
Roll over in bed without puffery
Feel hungry like a normal person does instead of intense, poisonous rage

*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Thank you cards for family baby shower
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Finish outlining space opera book 2
Outline space opera book 3
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel

“The blue colour is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight…”

“The blue colour is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight; and whether seen perpetually over your head, or crystallised once in a thousand years into a single and incomparable stone, your acknowledgment of its beauty is equally natural, simple, and instantaneous.” – John Ruskin, quoted in a very interesting article about ultramarine

Today was a good and beautiful day, and the sky was as blue as beauty, and the passionflowers were blooming in my backyard, and sunlight illuminated everything.

Today was especially lovely as it was cooler than yesterday. I spent yesterday at the  courthouse near Lake Merritt, waiting to be excused from jury duty for a murder trial. The courthouse was clearly a WPA building, art deco and covered in wood and marble within. There was nothing else nearby, a few closed museums and the lake not too far off. I went to a Cambodian restaurant for lunch and ate overpriced egg rolls and fried rice, then waddled back in the afternoon to see if my hardship excusal had been granted (“I will be 38 weeks pregnant when this trial begins…”).

The court staff and the judge were amiable and understanding that no one wanted to be there; they called two groups of 80 and excused most of us. I was almost moved to tears when standing in the hot, windowless vestibule of the courtroom a very nice man offered me his seat. I hadn’t realized how tired I was that afternoon. I took the BART home and walked back to the house very, very slowly. I lay down on the daybed in the baby’s room but don’t remember if I slept.

I can’t decide if I am genuinely less energetic than before or if the lack of distractions–like I had at work–is simply making me focus on my bodily discomforts more. The day before I left on leave an attorney commented that pregnancy hasn’t slowed you down at all. I cheerily responded that I felt great!

Well; three days later and I feel unwieldy and tired so much of the day. Maybe at work I had no choice but to keep moving, keep working, stop thinking so much about my body. I tried to get more exercise today–11.5k steps–and it did help some, I think. I wasn’t tempted to nap this afternoon. But my feet still ached, and I was short of breath, and my right hip felt like it was aching and over-rotated (like I had pushed my turnout too hard).

Still, the day was not without its minor achievements. I proofread my last novel and caught a few errors; I have my cover ready to go and will likely publish it this weekend. This poor book will alas be an orphan; I have no desire whatsoever to write a sequel and this will be for a different pen name. If it recovers the cost of the cover ($40?) I will be happy. I also began learning basic formatting for creating paperbacks, and this book will be my guinea pig. Tomorrow: dentist, more formatting, possibly some outlining.

I made berry smoothies and fried eggs for breakfast, lettuce cups and roasted Japanese sweet potatoes for lunch, and avocado quesadillas for dinner. I only had one slice of the strawberry cake we made this Sunday. I split a rich chocolate cookie with Carter for evening dessert. Very. Small. Victories.

Baby is turning over and over within me. She just finished her nightly session of hiccups. Little one, how is that I know you are going to be big trouble?


Things to do, mostly unorganized:

*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Finish outlining space opera book 2
Outline space opera book 3
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel

 

“Marklar, or brick pile.”

“Marklar, or brick pile.” -my nephew, providing name suggestions for the baby

I rather like brick pile. Brick-Pile or Brickpile. It’s a nice strong name, unisex, and no one in the family’s used it in the last few generations.

These days baby spends her time kicking me to let me know she’s there and won’t be ignored. Fair enough, little girl. I won’t forget.

I spent a hefty chunk of my break planning to plan (and failing). Come new year I usually do set resolutions, or at least a few solid goals as to what I want to accomplish in the upcoming months. But this year I am feeling hesitant. It wasn’t just pure laziness this go around: more than any other year, I don’t know what 2016 will bring. I don’t know if it will be sheer madness, or bliss, or both (which is more likely). I don’t know if I’ll have time for anything more than baby, Carter, and work. Will I have time to write? If I have the time, will I have the energy? I don’t know.

I could force myself to get down to business and work on side venture, but on the other hand, why don’t I savor the privilege of having a good maternity leave?

So, I’m floating in limbo. It’s strange to start a year with very few plans beyond pushing a human being out of my private parts.

I think I may formulate a plan and then go with the flow. It may happen this way, or it may not. This year more than ever I feel I will have to retract my claws and let myself be blown around in the wind.

So let’s try this.


Year-end results, based on mid-year and Q2 2015 goals

{Personal/art Goals}
-recovered from miscarriage, got pregnant, stayed pregnant
-finished head & hands drawing class (got an A!)
-earned a promotion at work, which is good because maternity leave will render promo impossible for a while

{Side Venture}
-Made $12.5k for the year, exceeding $10k goal
-Got over 200 sign-ups on newsletter
-One failed submission (no regrets)
-Did not learn paperback formatting, did not write one of my planned sequels
-Wrote/pub’d around 100k words overall

Given the amount of time and work I put into SV in 2015, I’m pleased with the results. Sure, I could have done better/more. But this is good. I’ll take it.


Soft-peddly squishy aspirations for 2016 (avoiding the word “goal” like the g-damn plague)

{Personal}
-Give birth to healthy baby
-Physically recover from pregnancy and childbirth
-Don’t go insane in first 3 months, and first 3 weeks especially
-Be nice to Carter
-Be nice to myself
-Read 75 books, track on Goodreads

{Art}
-Doodle more often, weekly at least
-Take one more art class before due date (v. risky)
-Journal daily, or close to it

{Side Venture}
-Outline and write 3 shorts for bestselling series to keep reader engagement, but not reaching for anything grand or huge numbers
-Aim for February, May, September release dates
-Make $6k (a reasonable number considering drop off in publication)
-Read space opera bestsellers
-Outline and write my own space opera series (3 books, 70k each)
-Publish in September, October, and November.

Actually looking at the thoughts and hopes that have been fluttering around my skull in writing makes me realize that I am still being very, very ambitious. This is probably a bad thing, but it feels good to write it out. If I can accomplish half these things by the end of the year I will be overjoyed. If I can accomplish a quarter, I will be pleased. If I can only accomplish 3 things (the first 3 things on the list preferably) I will be satisfied.

Yesterday a royalty check rolled in from a distributor I’d totally forgotten about, so I’m already at $1,850. They actually pay me more each quarter, despite my works for them being rather stale. So yay! I’m almost 1/3 to my $6k goal! Maybe I’ll make my “reach” goal $12k again. But I think it will be somewhat less than that this year, as I’m not writing very much for my established pen name and sci-fi is a much less lucrative category.

Well, let’s get going.

“Everything in life is just for awhile.”

pink flowersErica bracteata (sp?) for sale at the Botanical Garden at Golden Gate Park, Dec. 31, 2013

“Everything in life is just for awhile.” -Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly 

Good day, 2014. The last year was a blur; a good blur, mind you, but it’s the fastest moving year yet in recent memory. I remember my beloved 8th grade English teacher telling me that as she got older, each year went by faster and faster and faster. My adolescent bestie and I scoffed at the notion – we were still floating in the infinite possibility of childhood – but it’s true, time feels fleeter and fleeter of foot.

Part of that was the wedding and the honeymoon that followed, but the responsibilities grow year by year, and the more things there are to think about, the faster time goes by. I’m sure that if/when little ones enter the picture, the days and months will accelerate from a light jog to a sprint. I hope I can keep up.

I spent the last day of 2013 wandering around Golden Gate Park, convincing my husband to play hooky and explore the Park with me and follow up said adventure with pastrami subs + cherry pastries. There was an Amazing Race marathon to midnight and fireworks cracking over the neighborhood.

So far in 2014 I’ve bombed a job interview and gotten sick with something that the doctor today said is “probably a virus,” which has turned me into a slack-jawed zombie over the last week. I’m sure I’ll recover, but at the moment it feels like a balloon has inflated inside my skull and is threatening to detach my head from the rest of me at any moment. Last night, I spent some time googling my symptoms and told Carter that according to the internet, I think I’d come down with cancer/diabetes/heart attack/mild eczema.

I’m insisting on optimism this year so this week’s wins are as follows:

      • Least painful blood draw ever this morning! The lab tech clearly hated his job and ignored/resented my cheery chatter about how nice the weather was. However! His phlebotomizing was superb! I’ve had eyebrow-hair-tweezings that were more painful than that blood draw.
      • I didn’t have to pee in a cup, a procedure that always generates an undue amount of mental strife
      • I’ve been enjoying a new teapot.
      • Carter’s law school applications are done!
      • Beast hasn’t eaten any shoes since 2013!
      • My job promotion + raise went into effect.
      • Carter made creme brulee last night and it was delicious. And there are still 4 more dishes of it…

Tonight is first night of figure drawing, and I am dragging my feet to attend. Partly because I’m sick, and partly because it’s a one semester commitment. I remind myself that drawing is like meditation for me, when I’m in the right moment; it’s restorative and healing and wonderful in the best ways. I have no ambitions of doing art as anything more than recreation, but it is the best recreation, very good for me. But curmudgeon-me is dragging her feet, and wondering why we can’t just go home early, throw a sick-person-pity-party, eat creme brulee, and watch tv.

Will report back on who triumphs.