Friday, January 30, 2015

Being a writing librarian

Library garden in a bit of snow.

I’ve been working at my new library job for three months now and in February I am supposed to be transferred to a new, smaller and quieter library. My hope is that in this new place I’ll have a more relaxing lunch break where I can jot down something each day in order to keep up a new novella idea I had.

Being a natural procrastinator, it is really hard for me to get back into writing when I’m busy all week, riding the bus to and from work, and being on duty as the customer service representative of books that I’m supposed to be every day. But, as I’ve said, this new library may be quieter and less of a worry to scramble around and end up completely exhausted by the time I get home.

Librarians do not sit and read books all day. We don’t even stock shelves all day. Of course, in our district, librarians are locked away alone in some office somewhere away from the public. What I do is customer service – we deal with the management of the library. Helping customers with books, CV writing, emails, photocopying, room bookings, reading to kids, making sure kids don’t pull plugs out of the back of computers, the list goes on and on. It’s not a stressful job (teaching high school was the most stressful job I’ve ever had so anything not stressful to me means something that doesn’t make you physically ill every day) but it is demanding so you have to have lots of sleep and with-it-ness to make it through each day.

So trying to wind down for the hour I have at lunch it’s tough. Plus, I don’t have that whole hour alone because other people come in and out of the staff room. But I started writing a messy manuscript in a notebook that I keep in my book bag for the 10-15 minutes that I have to just sit and get some words down. I’ve started something contemporary because trying to deal with sci-fi or a thriller seems a bit too detailed for a willy-nilly word sprint in the afternoon.

A lot of people have given me great ideas on how they make time for writing, but with anything in life, I have to figure out what’s going to work best for me. I stopped worrying about a word count because it was starting to feel like it did with jogging – all I could do was stare at the numbers and pray that the countdown didn’t take too long. Number and me just don’t work well together.

January has been a crazy month, so he’s hoping that the rest of the year gives me more time to write.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What happens before breakfast?

Breakfast toastie at Costa. #mymorninghasbroken

I’ve heard it said many times that our best time to write is when we’re sleepy. Some writers feel better getting to work before dawn, and some write better late at night. When you’re working full time, what works best for keeping your writing goals in check?

I don’t have any word count goals right now because I’ve slacked so much on the actual butt-in-chair aspect. When I have time, I sit at the computer and churn out some outlines of book ideas that have come to me. I explore details of each to see what would fit or work better for each story. Of course, it won’t be until I get the writing underway that I’ll know what will actually work.

I have such a hard time getting my head out of the real world and into my own, that when I’m running around, I can’t focus on getting words down. I don’t know what could change that problem other than trying different things until I find something that works.

So, what do you do to keep your writing afloat? Do you work late at night, early morning, during lunch? Here are some ideas of what worked for other writers:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Writing and publishing goals for the New Year

Happy New Year from across the pond! #2015

Now that I’ve been working in libraries for a few months, I’ve come to a strange conclusion about books – there are a lot of them, but only some really popular ones.

In our library, the authors who move the quickest are Stephen King, Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, Martina Cole, Marian Keyes, and Richard Patterson. Aside from King, I’ve not read any of these authors, just because they aren’t really my taste in books. With the kids, they still check out Jacqueline Wilson as well as the Tom Gates or Wimpy Kid books. That’s about it. Everything else is hit or miss, and their popularity seems to go as quickly as it came.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t good books. I’m just now reading Gone Girl, but we have copies sitting on the shelf – the peek of “gotta have this” has passed.

So what does this mean for authors? We all want to be loved and adored by readers, of course, but the lasting power, the importance of one book – is it really something we should be striving for?

I’ve decided that, no, that’s not how I should be looking at my books. I like to get the stories in my head out and into words. I like the idea of sharing my stories with others and readers like my stories. And I don’t want to waste my time not doing something I enjoy.

This is why I’ve pretty much hooked into the self-publishing for this year. My YA sci-fi got some great feedback from potential editors, so I’m pleased with that, but it just means I want to keep working on them, edit and publish them myself.

My NA Thriller that’s the Shakespeare retelling wasn’t a hit with anyone I queried. But I like it and I told it the way I saw it in my head for years. I can self-publish that as well and move along without getting upset or have hurt feelings that my story wasn’t what someone else was looking for.

I’ve also found great solace in not fighting the publisher race as well. I’m fine with Wattpad and Smashwords. I’m fine with just doing what I want to do and getting on with it. It’s not to say that I won’t query editors later on, but for now I’m fine with being on the solo mission.

I hope everyone has been having a great New Year. Keep writing and keep on keeping yourself happy in your work!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Four more sleeps until Christmas

Coffee and mince pie.

For the first time in a long time, I’ll be working the week of Christmas. I have Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (Christmas Eve) to make my appearance at the library. Luckily the agency staff all got a couple of extra days off as well, so I’m free to hang out at home with Steve. (We may actually have a change to drive somewhere and do something outside of town!)

Today the Christmas turkey arrives so we can put that in the fridge. We may also brave the retail mall for some big TV shopping. On Monday we’ll have to get the rest of our Christmas necessities: biscuits, milk, oranges, and kitty litter. Tuesday is the late night at the library, and Wednesday I’ll be donned in my Christmas jumper. At least we close early that day.

My new job is turning permanent next year, so the boss in the process of getting my contract sorted. This means chasing up references, and producing a proof of address in order to get the ball rolling.

Lately, as I’ve said more than once, I’ve just been busy doing my daily routines. I finally was able to get my hair done last week, so I don’t look like some ragamuffin who looks in the mirror and think everything’s okay. I’m also done with the Christmas shopping (aside from the television shopping today). Of course, every time I think I’m done, I think of or see something new to add to the stack of presents in the closet that needs wrapping.

That wrapping never ends!

I haven’t been reading as much since I discovered that looking at an electronic device on a bus makes me sick to my stomach – bummer. The same goes for my writing, even though I have a set plan of events for my YA sci-fi series. I’ve been editing the first book with my CP and writing the second book slowly but surely. (Very slowly.) Since I’m not in the midst of the Twitter/PitchMad fever lately, I’m not as worried about getting things done in a rush and it, inevitably, ending up sub-par.

I also have my NA Thriller that still needs publishing on Smashwords. Maybe I’ll get to it early in the New Year. My schedule will change soon, so I may end up with half days on Wednesday and every other Saturday off so I can catch up on the book stuff much easier.

Anyway, with that update, I want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas. Hope you have a great holiday!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Being busy and being productive

Mad Tea Party.

Busy. We're all busy. We feel guilty if we're not busy, but we have to pace ourselves.

Now that I'm working full time, I've decided that I do want it all - work and writing. But I work late hours and only get one day at a time off (usually). So I have to give myself time to do all the other things I want to do when I can and in whatever increments I can handle at the time.

I read on the bus during my commute. I've tried writing on the bumpy bus, and it's more bother than it's worth with the typos.

Steve and I have given up on going to the grocery store on Sundays. We want to sleep in, eat breakfast, drink tea and coffee, and chill out. Since stores close at 4PM here on Sunday (even "24 Hour" stores aren't legally allowed to be open late) we simply don't have time to get the shopping done.

I've figured out that if I do the laundry right when I get home on Saturday night, I have a better chance of dry socks and work clothes by Monday morning. Before, I was trying to do that and shop and have family time all on Sunday. It just isn't feasible.

So, I've adjusted my schedule. I tackle what I can each day.

We're so worried about word count, but I really need to take the time to edit too . Now I know that the editing is the hardest, most time consuming process and I just can't think about submitting to a publisher or Smashwords before I do some editing and rewriting bit by bit, when I can.

I have a list of things to do every night when I get home: eat dinner, take a shower, talk to my parents, visit with Steve, pack Steve’s lunch, and get into bed by 11PM at the latest. It doesn’t look like much as a short list, but everything needs time and with only 4-5 hours each night to get everything done, there’s a lot of other things I’d like to do, but I just can’t.

I started to believe that busy was productive, and the opposite of lazy. The "no excuses" opinion of the masses is that we should have time to do everything , every day. If I have errands, I can't go to the gym. If I go to the gym, I can't get errands or shopping done, plus get writing and editing done. There just aren't that many hours in a day. Plus, if you run yourself ragged, you never have time to recuperate from the rushing around you do the rest of the week.

So, take your time, do what you can, do your best, and don't let the world pressure you into being on half empty all the time.