Writing is the Internal Battle of Wills

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There was a time when I’d treat a sluggish brain with a nice dose of coffee and be on my way with whatever it was I needed to do. Sadly, that time is no more; for a myriad of reasons, I can no longer have caffeine.

On the plus side, shakiness and a pounding heart are (mostly) a thing of the past. On the negative, though, I don’t get that quick hit of alertness.

I miss that quick hit of alertness. Especially on a Monday morning when my brain is trying to do anything but think. So what is there to do?

As is nearly always the answer, get on with it. Maybe my brain will have to do a few laps before it gets circulation to the crevices. Writing (and editing, which is where I am right now) is, at its center-most point, a contest of wills.

Yours against yours.

Sometimes we can use crutches like coffee. Sometimes we simply can’t. Sometimes people use crutches like alcohol. That one you really shouldn’t.

We all have to face the page somehow, whether it’s nearly blank one with a blinking cursor at the end and nothing but white space ahead, or one that’s chock-full of words you have to shape into something remotely readable. It’s that battle, I think, that is the hardest in writing.

Well, I may have lost one of the weapons in my arsenal, but I haven’t yet lost the war. Productivity is a choice, sometimes made minutes at a time.

Sluggish brain or no sluggish brain.

My books are free to read with KindleUnlimited or borrow with Amazon Prime!  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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Are Reading Subscriptions the Future?

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Maybe it’s a good thing that I discovered a trove of library ebooks so vast, I can’t keep up with my checkouts, because Amazon just launched Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99 a month, you have unlimited access to, according to the info on the site, 600,000 titles.

For a reader, that’s mighty tempting. But like Netflix DVDs and other entertainment subscriptions, if you don’t keep up with them, they’re not doing you any good. You have to make sure you’d get your money’s worth.

As a writer, however, it offers an added layer of plus-side to the KDP Select program. By making your book exclusive to Amazon, it’s already collection, and you get paid when people borrow it.

Overall, though, it’s Amazon, yet again, finding a way for wins all around. There aren’t really any losers in the Amazon publishing model. Readers will come out ahead as long as they read three books or so a month; fewer if they stick to the major publishers. Writers could see a bump in inncome from the service.

Me? I still have a bunch of library books on my Kindle. I’m practically drowning in books.

What a way to go.

Want to get started? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed (read for FREE with KindleUnlimited),  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management (also FREE with KindleUnlimited) and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) (you get the idea).

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Write Right Through the Bumpy Bits

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Today, to go along with the ever-present drilling, my water is supposed to be off for some work they’re doing to the plumbing. Kitchen and bathroom. I say “supposed to be,” because it seems it’s still running, but I’m prepared. I have water in the tub, in the sink, containers to wash my hands, and water to drink in the fridge.

Sometimes you just have to barrel through, regardless.

Writing is like that, quite often, in fact. Things come at you, whether they take your time, or make it less comfortable. Sometimes it’s the writing itself, a tight, self-wound knot that just won’t come loose no matter how you work it. Sometimes the writing, or the tasks that come along with it, are constant drilling and no water.

But interruptions end, eventually. The water returns (let’s hope) and the workmen go home. The sticky part in your work gets de-stickified or you work around it, confident in a smarter, more savvy future self who can put the problem to rest.

The path doesn’t have to be smooth for you to take it.

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Should I Read or Should I Go?

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Well, I fought the library clock and the library clock won. I took out maybe a few too many ebooks from the Chicago Public Library, and Amazon e-mailed me to warn me I only had a few days left on the loans. And, sadly, I started reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, in which, my Kindle phone app cheerfully tells me, I’m on page 64 of 925. I hope that means phone pages.

So even if I read as though I would win the lottery by hitting magic page 925, I probably am not going to finish it before it goes back. It or the other three books due at the same time.

Darn it.

Amazon also let me know I could purchase the book, which is both helpful and potentially expensive. Especially with the number of books I have with due dates looming. I also have the opportunity to renew, which then puts me in an interesting position.

If I renew the Murakami, it will probably be the only book I read for the next three weeks, and I have some of my quick-read favorite authors waiting patiently on my Kindle. And I’ll confess something about Murakami: his writing is completely gorgeous, but most of the time, I have no idea what the story actually means.

I guess it will be an abandoned book. At least for now.

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You Might as Well Worry at the Clouds

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Just a moment ago, a heavy layer of clouds covered the sky, a threatening blanket of rain. It grew dark, and the air took on that metallic quality it does when clouds get full of themselves.

And then it passed.

The clouds are breaking off into fluffy, happy bunches, bright blue peeking from above. Maybe they’ll gather themselves again, maybe they won’t, but we won’t know until it happens.

Life is like that sometimes. The specter of something can seem so ominous, but, in the end, it can amount to nothing at all. Or, other times it can deliver what it promises, winds howling, big, mean drops driving, the sky flashing and roaring. But we can’t know which it will be until it happens.

We spend so much time worrying, wondering what the clouds will do. What the sky will do. What the weather will do, when, the truth is, our worrying won’t change a single thing. It can’t and doesn’t effect the outcome.

Clouds are clouds and life is life, and you can never be completely sure what will come from either.

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Is ‘Getting Used to’ the Same as Complacence?

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It’s strange the way something can start out as intrusive, inescapable, refusing to be ignored, and then, bit by bit, over time, work its way into the background. As you may or may not know by now, they’ve been doing work on the facade of my building. When it started, the sound was so loud, so constant, it was almost as though it was inside my skull.

On and off for the last several months, the noise has visited me, between the hours of 8 and 3, and the weeks stretched on, it’s become less and less, well, irritating. Even now, the whine of the drills seems to either be there or not be there, with it making not that much difference to me.

So it made me wonder about the way we get used to things in our lives, good and bad, as time goes on. They can come to us as irritating or amazing or oppressive, but the longer we have to get used to them, we adjust. The miraculous seems less so; the irksome becomes the something we can ignore.

Maybe it’s simply a function of human numbing. Maybe it’s an a human tendency toward complacence. Maybe it’s a form of energy conservation, because there’s no sense in railing against the things you cannot control.

But then the question is whether we let this reaction bleed over into the things we can control. That’s when it becomes a problem.

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The Nature of Failure

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We all fail. In big ways, in small ways. We probably fail a little bit every day: items left unchecked on the to-do list; a dishwasher unemptied; running late even when we swore we’d be on time.

It’s a regular, run-of-the-mill occurrence. So why does it seem to count more than anything else?

When we fail, especially when we fail in a big, inescapable, unmistakable way, it seems to cut the light around anything else, creating a huge spotlight we think everyone else can see, we think everyone else can’t help but see.

We can’t win all the time, can we? Perhaps we’re lucky if we win even some of the time. Life is like an endless carnival with strings of booths packed with giant teddy bears. Everyone wants a giant teddy bear. There they are, seemingly for the taking.

But not everyone gets one. Sometimes we get the small inflatable unicorn. It’s not a giant teddy bear, but you know what? It’s not bad. And sometimes you throw your rings at the bottles and you don’t hook a single one.

What do you do? You can keep trying until you get it, or you can move on to the next booth. Lamenting the teddy bear isn’t going to get you any closer to it.

Failure is a part of trying. Whether you keep trying or move on to something else, well, only you can decide.

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