I edited yesterday!

I looked at the chapters so far for unknown title (formerly God’s Seeds) through ProWritingAid to acquaint myself with what I’d already written and to fix my idiosyncratic style before proceeding.

It went well. I got rid of all of those unusual dialog tags I excel at. The problem is, I don’t know where to do from there. It’s not like I’m pantsing, where I am making things up as I go along. No, I have an outline, but it’s so long since I’ve touched it I don’t know where to go with it.

I need my assistant (husband Richard) to help me sort this. But he’s sacked out on the bed.


Last Days of Leisure

I’m relieved they’re almost over

I don’t do well with nothing to do. Yes, over these last few weeks of break (about three weeks of break) I’ve spent a lot of time just recovering from the semester, but I don’t do relaxation well. I think I’ve said this before; I get frustrated with sitting down and not accomplishing anything. With 1.5 days till the beginning of classes, I’ve had enough of relaxation.

You’d think I could have spent that time doing the projects I don’t have time for during the Spring and Fall Semester. (And, to be fair, I did some of those projects, particularly editing Gaia’s Hands, which went live on Amazon on January 1.) I could have done class prep (I did this, weeks ahead of time.) But I didn’t start a new novel or anything like that because, I admit, I needed the rest.

So over break, I got little work done, and I feel guilty for not taking time to do the work. So if someone asks me what I did over break, I’ll answer, “I didn’t do a lot of anything.” And I will feel guilty because I could have practically finished a novel by then. Or edited more work on ProWritingAid. Or something madly ambitious.

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Perhaps I needed to do nothing

Perhaps I needed to do nothing so I could charge myself for the semester, which I think promises to be stressful: students tired of COVID restrictions in the face of even more illnesses under Omicron, the dreariness of winter and the lack of sunlight, all the minor irritations accumulating by midterms. I, as the professor, need to be the sane one (and as you might recall, I have bipolar disorder, so sanity has some challenges.) So, if it’s possible to soak up relaxation, I have been doing so. And I shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

But it’s time to get back into the work world. I can feel it.

Misplaced guilt

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My break ends

My break time is ending. I have meetings tomorrow and Monday, and then next Thursday is my first day of class next Wednesday. I’ve readied myself for the Spring Semester over the break, finished proofing and publishing a novel (Gaia’s Hands), and fixed another book via ProWritingAid.

Do you know what else I did? A lot of absolutely nothing!

And now for the misplaced guilt

Here’s why I feel guilty every year:

  • I haven’t spent every waking moment (and in fact have spent virtually no waking moments) working for Spring semester.
  • If I had children, I would spend a lot of time on them. Instead, I write and proofread and rest a lot. Even the Pope says I should get some children for a full life (This coming from a man who stayed celibate all his life? Ha!)
  • People don’t perceive taking care of myself with a mental illness (bipolar II) as legit as resting because of a physical illness (I know, I know, it’s just as legit, but I don’t always believe it.)

Enough of this

I have to remind myself that I am the primary earner of the house, plus I write novels on the side as a hobby, and I am going to need some rest. Plenty of rest. I might as well save my energy for tomorrow and Monday and all the days full of COVID and student requests.

Time to rest now.

Busy/Not Busy

New responsibilities at work

I’ve been moving into a period of more responsibilities at work, probably because I’m seeming more stable lately. I don’t mind, but I have to make sure I don’t a) procrastinate; b) overwork myself.


Work is a balancing game for me because of my bipolar disorder and because of my writing. I have office work to do today. And a meeting with a therapist. And part of my outline for It Takes Two to Kringle. Luckily I’m working at home today and I can get the work stuff done before I do personal stuff in the late afternoon.

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The work unnerves me when I look at it all in one piece. Which, I guess, is a good reason not to look at it all at once.

Time for rest

I have to work on this one. I get plenty of sleep (this is necessary with bipolar) but I don’t always feel rested. I think a lot of this is psychological — when I’m faced with a pile of work, I fret about whether I’ll get it done, and that makes me tired.

I need to work on resting my mind, which comes from things like meditation, time management that includes free time, and sleep without dwelling on things. Empty mind, in other words.

Time to quit writing and do something


Writing Lull

I need to get back into writing.

I think the current novel is scaring me because I have to write sex scenes and I so want them not to be cliche.

I could start writing another novel and go back to Walk Through Green Fire. Or I could just buckle down and write it.

I don’t have as much time now that the semester has started, but that may be a good thing — I am sometimes at my most productive when other things compete for my time.

I wish I could put a poster of my novel cover in my office, but that would probably be considered a conflict of interest. I’m okay with that; I need to be as focused on the job as possible, not daydreaming about my other job.

At any rate, I have to get the two parts of my life into balance soon.

What’s Up

What’s on my stereo

I’m playing Rock Lobster by the B-52s, which isn’t conducive to writing but is conducive to bewildering my husband at this time of the morning. I’m using it to wake up.

What’s on my mind

I feel like the summer is slipping away from me. I have a month before fall meetings start, and I pretty much have my course sites (the difficult part for me) set up for the Fall. I assume the university will be de-masked, with those students without vaccinations at risk for getting sick, unless we get a variant more daunting than the delta version.

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I’m going to have to get used to not having to set up a camera and microphone, not having to stand glued in one specific place, and not having to spray the chairs and tables with disinfectant (called “Bearcat Thunder”) between classes. Thank goodness.

What’s in my heart

I’m struggling in my heart. I haven’t fallen in love with anything lately, and love is what fuels me to write. I wrote a poem the other day, though, about one of the things I hate the most: proselytizing. Specifically, the hand extended when someone says “Jesus loves you” only to pull you into a place where Jesus purportedly hates everything you are. (I believe that Jesus loves who we are regardless.) There might have been a crush involved, and an intense disappointment.

My emotions are not strong lately, and I’ve always written out of a place of strong emotions. This is not entirely true — Kel and Brother Coyote Save the Planet was written out of a sense of fun, and I’ve made it to the first edit stage.

What’s on my plate

As I mentioned above, I’m editing Kel and Brother Coyote, which if I haven’t mentioned it, is a serial novella in the space opera genre. I’m hoping to get it on Vella just to see how well Vella works. It will, of course, need edits.

I’m waiting for beta reader responses on both Gaias Hands and Kringle in the Night. These will be self-published on Amazon. Gaia’s Hands is a contemporary fantasy romance, and the first book I wrote, and thus has gone through many, many rewrites. It asks the question: what is hidden from plain sight? Kringle in the Night is the second in the Kringle Chronicles series to come out at Christmas time. Both of them have atypical protagonists — imperfect, ordinary, made extraordinary by what might be called magic.

So I have things to edit, things to re-edit, and hopefully things to publish (self-) various places. I will also keep submitting to agents, but I keep that to every six months or so.

So it’s not like I’m not busy. I’m just not creating right now, and it makes me itchy. I need to submerge me into the editing.


So jump into my comments and tell me how you’re doing!

Just Do It

I’m having trouble writing this blog today.

I’m struggling with inertia when it comes to writing the blog today. Inertia is, so far, winning. To the point that I stare at this vista of screen space and … blank.

I try to write this blog as a show and tell — I show you what I do today and tell you the practical underpinnings. Not “You should do this” as much as “I’m trying this and this is how it’s working for me.”

At this point, I can abandon the blog till later — a practice we call procrastination.

So what do I do about my blog-writing woes?

I’m going to address this in terms of procrastination advice, which goes beyond “just do it” (thank you, Nike) and into practical advice. Procrastination breakers I’ve learned are as follows:

  • Break the job into smaller parts — this gives you motivational boosts in small doses when you need them
  • Put a reward at the end of the task
  • Do five-ten minutes of the task, promising yourself you’ll quit if you’re still unmotivated.

So, how’s it working?

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You might notice I have headers. Not just because it makes it easier for you to read, but because it makes it easier for me to write. This is my breaking up the job into the smaller parts. (Yay, I’m done with two parts so far!)

My reward at the end of the blog? Another cup of coffee, because I can be motivated by caffeine, always. Coffee, tea, it doesn’t matter.

Doing five to ten minutes of the task — I always work like this, and for some reason I never quit tasks after that 10 minutes. Why? Because once I’m into the task, my brain wakes up and I end up finishing the task.

I’m almost done with this blog, and I didn’t know if I would abandon it at the beginning of the writing. Now time for coffee!

Now for you

Tell me what your go-to procrastination!

When Being Good is Better than Being Great

My annual evaluation

I had my annual evaluation meeting yesterday, and I did good. I met expectations in all categories, and I was very happy. I was happy because I managed this two years in a row. I was happy because it seemed like I was settling into a new normal that was, in fact, satisfactory.

My former messy life

For anyone who has not been following me, I have bipolar II disorder. I wasn’t diagnosed until 9 years ago at age 48. The problem that brought me to the psychiatrist was a frightening lack of sleep — at least a month at 2 hours of sleep a night. I dragged myself through days yet had racing thoughts, half-finished projects, and broken promises. And a feel like I was about to accomplish something great.

This is what hypomania looks like, at least in me. Overcommitment, sleep disturbances, slight grandiosity — but a brilliant ability to shine in those things I finished. I accomplished three things for each thing I abandoned.

Until I was depressed, and then I barely managed things. I would slump into deep depressions, barely making it to classes to teach.. My course evaluations would go down just as they went up during mania. During the last depression before the big crash, which I experienced near-simultaneously with the high, I would write these long, self-flagellating notes on Facebook, worrying everyone I knew.

After the crash

The inevitable crash sobered me. I spent a week in the behavioral health unit getting stabilized on my meds and walking off the most hideous side effect I’ve ever encountered (see akathisia). This is when I realized that I couldn’t go on as I had, and that I had to stick with the meds and find a new normal.

Learning to live with the new normal, however, was difficult for a person who had lived with effortless energy for a good part of her life. On meds, I didn’t feel the exhilaration of new projects that would buoy me up, so my productivity compared to my manic moments. My self-esteem went down, and I had trouble adjusting to this “new me” who didn’t get kudos for accomplishment.

Good enough

For a while, I didn’t do enough. Because I would get seasonal depression with a certain mix of meds, my fall evaluations would be down, and I didn’t do research because I had fallen out of the habit while my free-wheeling moods had taken over me before my diagnosis. Then, finally, my new department chair marked me as “not meeting expectations” in my annual report.

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This shocked me. Other than gym class, I had never been marked unsatisfactory at any point in my career. I had had the fall/spring semester discrepancies, I had quit doing research, but I had never had an unsatisfactory mark in course evals. I panicked.

And then I set some things in place, knowing that I could no longer coast nor could I accomplish the wild amount of work effortlessly as I had in the past. I explained my bipolar disorder to my boss (I am protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act as long as I do the expected amount of work. I explained to him that the course evals might continue to be cyclical but that I would work on concerns. And I informed him that I would do enough work to get satisfactory scores, but would not be going for full professorship.

I have been working toward improving course evaluations and research. Some years have been better than others because I still seem to get seasonal depression. But for the past two years I have done good enough, and that’s the best outcome.

How about you?

What does a job well done look like to you? Feel free to answer in the comments.

The Longest School Year Ever

Why has this been the longest school year?

A full year with COVID. Teaching live and on Zoom simultaneously. Being constrained in teaching because I’m tethered to a camera. Students going on quarantine or isolation. Disinfecting all surfaces in the classroom. No Spring Break. Distance. Just so much distance. Constant stress — Am I the next victim? Is my husband? Will we survive COVID?

What are my summer plans?

Interns and writing. And probably some research setup. Hopefully a writing retreat or two. It’s going to be one of the more relaxing summers I’ve had because I won’t be taking a summer class toward my certificate in disaster mental health. I may not know what to do with all my free time. I have a short story collection to finish (not knowing how many more episodes to write) and I may play more with short story ideas. I have too many novels sitting in my lap to write another one for a while. (Gaia’s Hands, Apocalypse, Reclaiming the Balance, Whose Hearts are Mountains, Prodigies, The Kringle Conspiracy, and Kringle in the Night — I guess that’s 7.) Maybe try to get more published.

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What do you think I should do this summer?

I need some ideas — weird or no — of what I should be doing this summer. Please make suggestions in comments!

The Used New Computer

I’m getting a new (to me) computer today. It’s used, it’s a Surface Book 2 like mine is, but it is close to the top-of-the-line for a Book 2 and it cost about $700. I’m going to be happy to have a graphics card (for using Sketchup for making maps of areas in my books. And an i7 processor instead of an i5. And twice the hard drive space. and 16 GB RAM.

This will result in a whole afternoon porting things from one computer to the other, which will kill a lot of time. But it will be worth it.

We’re pretty frugal here, choosing to buy the slightly less recent models rather than the newest. Ok, admittedly, if I could afford a top-of-the-line Book 3 — I still wouldn’t get it. So much of the price of the newest model is that it’s new. I would have had to get a more modest computer (like my current computer at i5, 256 mb ssd drive, no video card.

So this is my new (to me) computer, which I should get a lot of use out of.