The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

One of the traits commonly assigned to people who fall within my particular zodiac sign is a certain kind of flightiness in which we have a lot of ideas, but find it difficult to focus on just one. I don’t necessarily believe in astrology, but I’ve got to own up to this one. Ideas come in abundance and I have a very hard time deciding what I want to work on next.

This is part of the reason I struggle with blogging regularly.  My brain goes off on so many tangential directions and I struggle to pin down a focus.

I want to write a blog about my gardening efforts.

I want to write a blog about my genealogy work.

I want to start a podcast.

I want to write a blog about home renovations.

I want to open an Etsy shop to sell paintings…and knitwear…and aromatherapy soaps…

And don’t even get me starts on the 30 different books (both fiction and non, in all sorts of different genres) and stories, I want to devote all of my time to.

On and on and on and on…

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, about how I have so many different interests and how, in our specialization-style world, I feel as if I’m expected to dedicate myself to only one thing forever and am completely unable to do so. It’s enough to drive a person mad.

Of course, I know I’m not the only one, so I’d love to hear from you guys about your struggles and triumphs with the specialization expectation. Do you chafe at the idea of having to have multiple social media accounts for separate identities or does this come more naturally to you (and if so do you have any tips, pretty please, I’m begging you)? Did you change your major 8 times in college and still end up with a career unrelated to any of them? Do you find yourself showing different aspects of your personality when around different people and sometimes wonder which one is the authentic you? I’d love to hear your story. I can’t guarantee I’ll ever do any further work on this subject (as evidenced by its very nature), but at the moment, I would very much like to explore it.

 

Getting a Thicker Skin

I am a perfectionist. Always have been.

There’s a reason that The Black Guard Chronicles hasn’t seen the light of day and it’s been completed for almost three years now. I keep polishing and refining and polishing and refining it over and over again. Each time I get through the process, I think, this it, now it’s ready. Then a month or so later, I start editing it all over again. I’m starting to think it will never make it out of this edit loop.

My boyfriend has told me over and over to get outside feedback, that I can’t figure out what works and what doesn’t on my own. He’s right, of course, but efforts to accomplish this usually came to naught. That’s where Scribophile comes in.

Scribophile is great. I really enjoy it. I’ve come across some really interesting works and people and a good community of writers. There’s also a slight problem here. As a perfectionist, if a single person dislikes a certain word or phrase, I feel the need to alter it. This gets tricky when one person loves something and another person says “seriously, cut this. This is dumb.” I have also come across people whose idea of what makes good writing is pretty much the opposite of mine.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I find it fascinating to see how truly subjective the idea of a quality piece really is. Of course, I would be lying if I said I found it immediately fascinating. I have to digest it first.

I know I shouldn’t be saying this, but my initial reaction to a harsh review is to get defensive. I would be honestly surprised if any writer on this earth reacted differently. Your work is your baby and you want everyone to love it as much as you do. That’s just the way it is. But! Even if what they say makes me want to plead, “No, you don’t get it. The point here is…” or just go curl up in a ball in a corner and stop showing my writing to anyone because it’s obviously the worst, I know that there’s something useful in what they have to say.

No matter how much I think the critiquer has misunderstood what I was trying to do, or whatever justification I have for feeling defensive, their opinion is valid in their own sort of way and my job is to digest that information and decide what in it I can, in fact, use.

And then! At a certain point! I have to acknowledge that what I write is never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be a piece that every single person will say “This is flawless.” Why? Everything is flawed. I will never release a perfect piece of writing that everyone on earth will love…and that’s okay. That has to be okay.

I have to write what I like and what interests me in my own style and my own voice. I should listen to what others suggest, try it on, see what works, but within the bound of my own style and voice. At some point I have to put what I like and what to read and write out there.

The more they remain… insane

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Clearly this also applies to my fear of public forums as well (internet social anxiety? does that exist? I must get some of my army of psych-kids on figuring that one out.) . I am going to have to come up with a schedule to keep this endeavor going.

Perhaps we shall begin with a project introduction:

My major project at the (1st – there are 2, go me) library where I work right now is weeding through our VHS tape collection, which is weird to me. I can’t explain it. I suppose it’s the technological obsolescence (great phrase, I try to use it as much as possible) making me feel old. Or maybe it’s the fact that via this project, I learned that Paul McCartney wrote a “Liverpool Oratorio”…which is -interesting- in and of itself.

But, honestly, I am completely incapable of working on only one project at a time. And, of course, writing happens. And writing can never happen one thing a time either. I write the novel, but every so often my mind will wonder just enough to allow the plot virus beast to do this vicious little dance and chase me around the room until I crank out a story to its liking. Then we have a problem. This is a horrible habit that I desperately need to break myself of. Granted, I try to make sure that every one of my writing projects exists in completely divergent worlds — otherwise I’d find the characters running about trying to make friends with one another as they did in Gilded Days (I’ll get to that, don’t you worry your head over it). Still it keeps everything a little slow going. My word count tallies can get a little sporadic to say the least.

My goal for this summer’s is to buckle down on one of my main three. Which of the three, at the moment, is still dangerously up in the air.