I Must Confess

After doing my introspection this morning, I had high hopes that I would be writing for the rest of the day. Alas, I have not written a word since. Writer’s block? Nay, I daresay that I have spent my time not frivolously, but totally engrossed in reading a book about Lord Byron.

This is where I must confess. I have had no knowledge of Lord Byron other than I knew he was a writer of some sort. I did not know that he was a poet of renown. I’ve not finished the book but am 3/4 of the way through it. I do not understand poetry nor the fascination that people have with it. You could say I’m poetry deaf along with being mostly tone deaf. I do appreciate a good limerick, the bawdier the better. As far as poetry goes, I have not even tried to appreciate it.

Occasionally, I’ll get a follower of this blog that when I go to view their blog, I see that it is dedicated to poetry. It has baffled me as to why they would follow my blog. Out of being of a genial nature and not wishing to offend, I have reciprocated the following but not always. My snub of poetry is not because I look down on poetry, nor do I think it silly. It is simply because I do not fathom it at all.

When I was in school in English classes invariably we would have a time of poetry appreciation and an assignment to write a poem or two. I would fail miserably because I wouldn’t deign to even attempt to write a poem. My ignorance of poetry was my great secret. I would rather receive a failing grade than to submit a poem, knowing that it would be derided and cause me considerable humiliations.

My readings today have opened me up to the possibility that there is a whole world out there that is dedicated to the clever turn of phrase not in literature, but in poetry fashion. I still don’t grasp poetry, but stand in awe of those that can appreciate it and those that can compose whole racks of poetry that poetry lovers adore.

Keep writing my poetry brethren. I cheer for you on the sideline much as I cheered for my son during his basketball games. I understand basketball as much as I understand poetry which is to say not at all. Nevertheless, I will stand and applaud when others lead the way in respect for your chosen profession. I do it not to disrespect, but simply in a matter of fashion that I am wont to do out of necessity due to my profound lack of poetry wisdom.

Imposter Syndrome – Redux

I wrote about this six weeks ago which if you missed it, you can find it here. So why am I revisiting this again? Well, I had an attack once again last night. To solve a problem, you first have to identify the problem completely. I don’t think I did that then. Back to the first step. This is going to be a long post, buckle in and prepare yourself.

One way to approach this is to do the who, what, when, why and how process. The who and what I’ve already nailed down as myself and imposter syndrome. I get panic stricken about writing. I don’t think that I’m a real writer and I’m fooling myself thinking I can do this. I doubt that my writing is clear, informative or entertaining for anybody but myself.

If I stop there in this investigative series, I would use the maxim “Fake it until you make it”. In other words, act like a writer until I feel like I’m a writer. The problem with that approach is that I’ll be continually facing periods of time where I am deep into Imposter Syndrome. Each time has the potential for me to abandon this whole writing gig. It’s wearing on the soul. Case in point, for NaNoWriMo, I wrote for 19 days straight, struggling more and more as time went on. Looking back, I let my fear inhibit my writing and my word counts kept dropping each day. Eventually, I abandoned writing daily on the project and in fact have not written a single word since on the novel.

When have I felt this way? The easy answer is the most recent times. However, I believe I need to delve into the past to see if I’ve had a form of this before. This requires a lot of introspection. The first time that I can recall in my adult life is when I was promoted to First Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy and was appointed LPO (Leading Petty Officer). That put me in charge of 15 men and I answered only to the Chief and Division Officer. In civilian terms, I was the manager. For the first year I was continually beset by the feeling that I didn’t know what I was doing and was failing miserably. I made mistakes that I magnified in my mind that were job killers and was constantly in fear of being demoted. Somewhere along the line, I finally felt comfortable.

Due to my drive for excellence, I was tapped for a prestigious school that would have opened up a strong pathway for success, not only in my naval career but beyond. Only the top 0.1% of First Class Petty Officers were offered this school in my rating. This six month class started with 20 men. If we made it past the 5th month, we were guaranteed to pass. I struggled mightily and doubted myself. By the final test at the end of the 5th month, we were down to 12. Nine passed and three failed. I was one of the three. We that had failed the test were dropped from the class. Looking back, I see that my insecurities held me back and I self-sabotaged by drinking instead of studying.

Six long years later, I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer. Again, the imposter syndrome struck. For the first year, I didn’t feel like I was worthy of being a Chief. The Navy believed in me, but I did not. That changed one day when a fellow Chief on the ship basically threw me under the bus. I was aghast! I confronted him as to why he had done so. After a long conversation it came out that he thought I was a threat to him. This confused me as I wasn’t even up for promotion for another two years. How could I be a threat? Turns out it was all about the yearly evaluations. The top 50% of the Chiefs on board (16 of us), got personal evaluations by the Commanding Officer, the bottom 50% were evaluated by the Executive Officer (2nd in command). The Commanding Officer would rank each of the Chiefs he evaluated. The higher your rank, the more likely you would be promoted to Senior Chief. I was ranked 5th that year. For a first year Chief, that was pretty much unheard of to be ranked that high. Three of the four ranked ahead of me all made Senior Chief that year including the one that had sabotaged me. I bear him no ill will and understand that at this level, politics does come into play. He became my biggest supporter after he was promoted.

After I retired from the Navy, still a Chief even though I was up for promotion, I went back to my family’s farm. While rehabbing the houses and structures, I discovered I had a talent for carpentry and woodworking. My wife and mother arranged for me to interview at the School District Maintenance facility for a carpentry job. I felt like I faked my way throughout the interview and somehow got hired. Again, the imposter syndrome was active for the first year or so. I constantly doubted myself. Once again, I doubled down on working hard at perfecting my craft. In case you are interested, I did an online album of some, but not all of my work while at the Maintenance facility and at home. You can see it here. Due to the encouragement of not only my family but also many teachers, I started a side business of custom woodworking. Guess what reared its ugly head? Yep, imposter syndrome. I blamed the failure of my side business on the fact that I hated sales and marketing. Truth is, I doubted myself and again self-sabotaged.

Why am I continually beset by this problem? Everything I have done in my life, I either succeeded wildly or crashed and burned horribly. I sought the help of a therapist and saw her for about a year. Through a lot of painful sessions, I realized that my insecurities about myself were from childhood. We worked through quite a bit of them and helped me understand why I did the things I did. Did that cure me of my insecurities? Obviously not or I wouldn’t be writing this post. One aspect that I had not considered but we had touched upon during the sessions is that my insecurities had propelled me to excellence. By doubting myself, I had worked extra hard on being the best I can be. So the insecurities were not necessarily a bad thing. But more often than not, my insecurities had held me back by not taking opportunities that I could have. This now leads us to the final part.

How do I harness my insecurities to be the best I can be and not just chuck this whole writing thing out the window? My therapist pushed me during our sessions to write a journal. I tried a few times, but didn’t follow through. The idea stuck with me and I started this blog to write daily six months after my sessions with her came to a close. It has been a tremendous help in my writing skills and habits of writing. I need to harness my insecurities to double down on writing and tell the voice in my head that I will overcome the negative aspects of my feeling like I’m not good enough. From my prior experience, this will lead to me being the best I can be at writing.

In summary, just by writing this post exploring my Imposter Syndrome in depth, I feel rejuvenated and more confident. I thank you for following me along this journey and welcome any tips that I may have not considered. Now to decide which of the four or five projects I am currently working on to focus on first. I’ll update with another post tonight.

Nope, Not Feeling It

I didn’t write anything yesterday and I sat down this evening to write because I felt like I needed to write something, anything. I opened up “My Cancer Journey” and stared at it and said, “Nope, not feeling it.”

I then opened up my book, “The Altered War”, and stared at it and said, “Nope, not feeling it.”

What’s next? How about writing on my novel “The Reluctant Master”? It’s been a while since I’ve even looked at it or thought about it. Read what I had written so far and then said, “Nope, not feeling it.”

Ok, maybe I don’t need to write. How about I edit one of my short stories that I’ve been putting off for ages. Opened up “The Lump” and promptly said, “Nope, not feeling it.”

Maybe it would be better to search out writing challenges on the internet, so off I go. Let me tell you, there is a dearth of writing challenges this month. Seems everyone is doing NaNoWriMo. But wait! I found one. “Write about Pie”. Thought for a bit and then said, “Nope, not feeling it.”

I think I’m starting to see a trend here. I know, I’ll create my own challenge. I looked in my library of photos that go back almost 20 years on my PC. Found this one that I really love.

Photo by Maria Berlin

My daughter, a professional photographer, took this one about 10 years ago. I started writing and this is what I came up with.

If you could walk just a day in these boots, what do you suppose you might see? Will you see what the owner saw and did? Or would you be able to see the wonder of newness that the owner dismisses because he has seen it every day?

And you are probably guessing what I’m going to say next. “Nope, not feeling it”.

Let’s Get Organized

As it is Thanksgiving, I decided to do something nice for my wife. She does resin art and wanted to drill tiny holes into the tops of letters to put in an eye hook. She tried using a Dremel, but that was very difficult.

Out in the garage, I have a drill press, but haven’t used it in ages. It pretty much became a flat surface to pile things on.

I spent most of the afternoon in the garage, cleaning it up. Putting away everything, or at least relocating it to a pile for later. Vacuumed, wiped and cleaned every bit of the press and the cabinet that I had made for it years ago. Then did a test run with one of her resin letters.

I do believe this is much better. My wife loved that she can now drill the holes with ease and quickly. I have to repair the top as the locking mechanism broke. It was a piece of plywood that had warped so bad that it would not hold the fence steady. Of course, to do that requires I clean the other side of the garage to get my contractor table saw out. That will be for another day.

This was the first time since I started Chemo that I’ve actually felt good enough to even attempt something like this. I’m on a new protocol that I will go into detail on my page “My Cancer Journey”. I hope to have it up in a week or so. This new protocol may be a game-changer.

Interesting

Getting paid for what you are passionate about is probably the best thing in the world. I say probably, because up till now I haven’t been paid for my writings. I enjoy writing and also the editing and revising just for the sheer joy of creating something that brings a bit of enjoyment to the reader. Getting paid would be a validation of sorts but is not my main goal.

I get an weekly email from Authors Publish Magazine. If you are a writer and have not seen this website, I highly recommend you go there now. Yes, NOW!

They scour the internet for opportunities for writers to be published. Also they have great free books on writing, editing, publishing and marketing. Today’s email had a bit of a surprise for me.

Creating a Successful Author Patreon
So you can get paid directly for your writing.

I don’t think I’m ready for a Patreon page, but there were two alternatives that I had never heard of: Ko-fi and Buy Me A Coffee. I did a quickie look and they seem like something that I might do in the near future. They also looked like a lot of work getting it set up that would not be any where near as enjoyable as writing.

If anybody has experience with the above three, I would love to hear about it, good and bad.

A New Story

Decided to forgo writing on my NaNo book tonight. Instead I started a new story called, “My Cancer Journey”. It is a memoir of sorts. Tonight, I wrote an astounding 2,600 words. I’m maybe a third of the way through the story. I plan on editing and revising and polishing it up after I finish the first draft. Then I’ll post it on here in a new page as it is rather lengthy for a normal post.

I decided to write this because of two things. One, I want to keep the posts on the blog more focused on writing. I’ll still do health updates when warranted on the blog. Secondly, I felt that I needed to chronicle my Cancer Journey.

I do not want it to be a bullet point of things that have happened. That is not only boring to me, but most likely boring to anyone who would dare attempt to read it. Instead, I’m going for the story telling aspect. I’m also adding in how I felt at the time as best that I remember it. Throwing in a few anecdotes to keep things interesting and to advance the story. Right now, I’m projecting the story to be about 8,000 words. It could grow to much more to keep it not only interesting but informative.

Of course, my journey is not complete, so the story will grow as time goes on. Between you and me, I’m hoping on a happy ending. Otherwise, the story will end abruptly and be most unsatisfying to the reader, but especially for me as I’ll probably be taking a very long dirt nap.

The NaNo book? Oh yeah, with me switching to Cancer Journey story, I believe I’ll clear my head and find a way to advance the NaNo book story at a later date. The pressure of writing every day and making a set amount of words is stifling to my creativity.

Writing to me is a joy and a deep pleasure. When I craft a perfect sentence, a perfect paragraph, it’s sublime. Then I go back and edit it again and again and like magic, it’s even better. NaNo took the joy and pleasure out of writing for me. It became a chore, a drudgery and killed my wonder of creating a story.

I’ll not begrudge nor regret attempting NaNo, as I felt I’ve learnt quite a bit about my writing process. It has helped me to see where I need to focus and most of all, to appreciate my writing.

NaNo Week 3 update

At the end of week 2, I had 17,446 words written. This week I wrote a measly 2,835 words which brings me to a total of 20,281 words written. Holy sweet jeebus! 20k words?

That’s a huge milestone for me. I’m pretty darn proud of that.

As you can see though, my production has dropped greatly this week. I did not write on Saturday and I’ve not written today and have no plans to do so. I’m feeling a bit burnt out right now and need to give it a rest.

Before I started this, I had realized that I’m more of a short story type of writer. I decided to do NaNo in order to accomplish two things. Get myself into the habit of writing and to see if I had the chops to write a book. More and more, I’m realizing that writing books is not my style at least for now. I will finish this book and will attempt to finish strong this week. Doing another book after this is definitely not on the horizon.

I’m looking forward to December when I can officially stop work on the book and go back to what I enjoy doing which is dreaming up quirky, fun, and strange short stories. After an unknown amount of time, I’ll go back to finishing this book. I hope I’ll have the motivation to work on it before NaNo 2022. If not, I can try NaNo again and finish the damn book.

Well that’s interesting. I just figured out if I wrote 3,333 words everyday for 9 days, I can still “Win” NaNo with a total of 50k words. Ha-ha! Famous last words and all that rot.

Stranger things have happened.

Weekly Progress Report #7

When you make a plan, God laughs.

My plan was to write everyday not only on my novel to be, but also on this blog. I also planned on writing 50k words this month on the novel. So how am I doing?

Quite frankly, the plan has been folded, spindled and mutilated. My word count for the novel is abysmal this week, which is surprising as I had looked forward to this section of the book. I did not write anything on the novel yesterday.

After making a post for 32 days straight, I’m back to square one. I took yesterday off and did not write anything. Well, I did make a semi-lengthy comment on Wilder, Wealthy, and Wise. But other than that, nothing, nada, zilch.

Am I getting burned out? I’m not sure. It could be a combination of burnout with health issues. Or I’m just procrastinating due to the deep inner desire to sabotage myself if it looks like I’m succeeding due to fear. More than likely, I just felt like taking a lazy day.

On Monday, I submitted my YA(?) story and just as I was sitting down to write this post, I get an email with a rejection. This is not just a form rejection and it actually helps.

Thank you for submitting “There Be Dragons” to Cast of Wonders. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. Our readers felt the story was more appropriate for a middlegrade audience than the 12-17 year old target age group of Cast of Wonders. We did, however, think it had a great concept and was well written. There are lots of articles out there on key differences between the two genres – here’s one we like: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-key-differences-between-middle-grade-vs-young-adult

Submitting to the right market is key and now I understand a bit more where I should be looking. I’ll be looking for a new place to submit it that is more appropriate.

I hope to get back to writing on the novel today and get back to writing each day a decent amount of words to progress. Tonight I’ll post my NaNo weekly update.


After going through the bout of possible liver failure and the extreme lethargy associated with it, I feel really good. Also I’ve changed my diet to limit Carbs to between 50-100 a day and cut out processed sugar as much as possible. My stamina seems stronger this week, but is it really?

The human body is amazing at what it can get used to. Right now, there is a war in my body between the Chemo and the cancer cells. Innocent cells are dying right along with cancer cells as collateral damage. I’m at the end of the 3 month cycle of Lupron shots. From the last ending of the cycle, I was steadily getting more and more tired each day. I had hoped that with the change in diet, it wouldn’t be as bad, but then again, see the first sentence of this post.

This week is a short work week. Wednesday will probably be a short day. Thursday I’m off as it is a paid holiday. Friday is going to be interesting as it will be a short day also, but we will have about 1/2 of the employees off that day. I’m going to get a shot at counter sales that day. After a year and a half immersing myself in plumbing products, I think I’m ready to step up to the next level and do sales. I’ve never done sales and in fact have always run as far and fast as I can away from sales.

No doctor appointments this week. Yay!

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Three Options … and They All Suck

At work, I’ve been shifted to primarily be a delivery driver. I’m driving a 30 foot box truck. Loading and unloading the truck can be difficult and hard, but the driving is pretty easy. While driving today, I thought of how to proceed with my new found villain. I came up with three options.

Option A: Villain inwardly hates being the bad guy and ends up joining my band of soldiers against the state.

Option B: Villain pretends to hate the state and tries to integrate with the soldiers in order to gather evidence to throw them into prision.

Option C: Villain is simply a bad guy out for the blood of the soldiers.

When I got home from work, I opened up my document and thought about how to write Option A. I couldn’t do it. I stared for a while at the page on my screen. This option sucked. I took a little break to clear my head and sat down to do Option B. Again, I couldn’t do it. There was no way to start this part that made even the least bit of sense. Off to take another break to clear my head.

Option C seemed the most promising when I was going over scenarios earlier today. However, I struck out once again.

Now it’s getting late, and I dearly want to show some progress on the book everyday and also write a post on this blog everyday. I took a shower and it came to me. I need to go to Option D. Who saw that coming? Option D is to start a new chapter and shift the Point of View from my Main Character to the Point of View of the villain.

I wrote a quick page and a half in fifteen minutes. Then on to write this post. Now I have less than five minutes to update my book progress on NaNoWriMo and publish this post. Nothing gets the adrenaline going as good as when you are pushing the deadline.

The Villain Appears

Photo by Miggy Rivera on Pexels.com

Last night, tired as I was, I managed to bang out almost a thousand words on my book. In the process, I discovered my villain for Part 2. This is why I like writing without an outline. The story can surprise me as I write. I have a general idea where to start and where to end, but the middle is a mystery to me until I start writing.

Why do I need a villain? Simply put, I like to have action in the book. Action without something opposing it is like watching someone do Parkour. Fun to watch and amazing, but after a while I get bored with it.

In Part 2, I really enjoyed the beginning, but when I got into it more, it was getting a bit boring for me. Even the action part which comprises all of Chapter 2, 3 and 4. The end of Chapter 4 introduced the villain and in Chapter 5 the villain strikes! By Chapter 6, it will look like all is lost. After that, I have no idea. But Part 2 will end about Chapter 8.

Had another long day. So far in four days of work this week, I have amassed 43 hours of work. Still have one more to go tomorrow. My paycheck should be pretty darn good.

Haven’t started writing tonight on the book. I plan to after dinner. Don’t know how much I’ll write, but I’m determined to write everyday this month on the book.